What the Houston Rockets have to gain
Although I’ve spent time discussing how the Harden-led Rockets have repeatedly come up short, that’s hardly the main reason they should consider moving him. When the team moved Chris Paul for Westbrook, their decision to send off two first-round picks and two pick swaps made their intentions clear. The Rockets were looking to go all-in with their MVP backcourt at the expense of their foreseeable future.
Now that Houston’s hand wasn’t nearly good enough to take the pot, the Rockets may have to go to extreme measures to get themselves out of the hole their gambling put them in. As I mentioned before, the options the Rockets have now are either to keep it the same with a new coach or make significant changes.
At a certain point, the franchise will have to face some big decisions, even if it might mean moving their superstar to mix things up. The Rockets have had all kinds of talent around Harden, but the results still haven’t been there.
If Houston fields calls for James, there will undoubtedly be some big-time offers throughout the league. As we wrote about recently, the Philadelphia 76ers were reported to be interested in Harden recently. There are a few trade scenarios that would work logistically while also assuring the Rockets would get their money’s worth.
For example, the Rockets could replenish some of their lost picks while also acquiring All-Star talent in Ben Simmons and a solid defender in Josh Richardson in a Harden trade. They could also go after superstar big man Joel Embiid.
Daryl Morey may have made Harden untouchable in the past, but circumstances have changed. Several NBA teams are in need of a shakeup after this unprecedented season, and moves for a game-changing superstar are bound to happen. When other GM’s call, Morey and the Rockets should listen.
Next: The Case for Making Harden Unavailable