Why Bucher is wrong about Morey potentially moving Russ
Bucher cited the Rockets’ financial woes as the reasoning behind a potential trade, which seems like a valid motive on the surface. But consider this, the Rockets are essentially near the luxury tax threshold every year. So why would they all of a sudden move a “key piece” now because of something they’ve grown accustomed to?
On top of that, Russ and Harden are close friends both on and off the court, which Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta cited as one of the many reasons for making the trade in the first place. It goes without saying but Harden certainly wouldn’t sign off on such a move.
Bucher is right about the fact that the Rockets don’t have any up-and-coming players, but that’s by design, as we know Rockets GM Daryl Morey doesn’t like to build the team through the draft. And even aside from that, it wouldn’t be the best decision to add younger, developmental players in exchange for Russ, considering where Harden is at in his career.
After 11 years in the league, Harden is at a point where the only thing missing off his resume is a title, and he’s certainly not getting any younger. But even aside from that, you almost never get equal value in return for a top-10 player in the league, which Russ has certainly been this season.
So what would be the point of flipping him? Then there’s the small ball element of this, which the Rockets implemented to create more spacing for Russ, which proved to be beneficial for the 2017 MVP. Although the Rockets aren’t exactly loaded with young talent, they’ve got two of the best players at their respective positions of all-time, which trumps having developmental players anyways.
But aside from that, such a move would potentially set the team back from competing for a title, which is why we shouldn’t expect this to happen.