3 immediate priorities for new Rockets GM Rafael Stone

Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook James Harden (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook James Harden (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

1. Get a pulse on Houston Rockets franchise player James Harden

James Harden has long proven to be one of the best scorers in NBA history, as The Beard has a variety of tools in his bag. Harden has several signature moves, including his eurostep or his stepback 3-pointer, which have both proven to be challenging for defenders to stop.

Harden has also proven to be able to get to the free throw line at will, as he’s led the league in free throws in each of the last six seasons, and in seven of the last eight seasons. Harden has also become one of the best two-way players in the league, as he’s led the league in steals on numerous occasions and has emerged as the best post defender in the league.

Harden’s name carries cache around the league, and rightfully so, as he’s been an MVP finalist in each of the last three seasons. Harden’s name has allowed the Rockets to reel in Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook, and the Rockets have yet to miss the playoffs during his tenure with the organization.

But Harden has just two years remaining on his contract, meaning the Rockets will likely have a decision on their hands after this season. If Harden has interest in leaving the organization, the Rockets would be better to identify that now, so they can figure out the best course of action, which could even include trading Russell Westbrook.

That also could mean allowing him to compile a list of players he’d like Stone to target this offseason, much like Daryl Morey has done in the past and did last season upon acquiring Westbrook. It could also mean identifying a list of teams he’d be interested in joining, so Stone and his front office staff can begin to negotiate with those teams, which would allow the Rockets to maximize on their return.

Next. 3 trades that would send Russell Westbrook to the Knicks

Either way, the discussions must start now, as doing so would allow the Rockets to figure out what all they need to do to make him happy, and make the corresponding moves.