Stephen A. Smith explains why Rockets must keep James Harden

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Although the Houston Rockets are in a state of flux, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith explained that trading franchise player James Harden wouldn’t be a wise decision to make. 

There’s been much debate about whether the Houston Rockets should include franchise player James Harden in trade talks, as many believe the Rockets would be best suited to blow their roster up and re-acquire some of the draft capital they’ve parted with in recent years. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta squashed the speculation, as he explained that the Rockets’ championship window is still open and that the team intends to keep it’s core intact.

In spite of that, the topic of trading Harden came up on Wednesday’s episode of ESPN’s First Take, as co-host Max Kellerman suggested that the Rockets should send Harden to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Giannis Antetokounmpo. Stephen A. Smith disagreed with Kellerman and agreed with Fertitta’s decision to keep Harden, labeling Harden as an icon and magician.

Smith elaborated further on why the Rockets should keep The Beard.

Smith explains why Houston Rockets must keep Harden

“You don’t trade James Harden. There is no unless. You don’t move Harden.

In today’s NBA when you have a magician on the offensive end like Harden, I’m holding on to him for dear life.”

Smith explained that the Rockets must instead find the right head coach for Russell Westbrook and Harden.

“You’ve got to get the right coach and it has to be a coach that gets Russell Westbrook’s personality to modify just a touch or is willing to move him to get some other parts to pair with Harden,” said Smith.

Hopefully, the Rockets’ next coach can get in the psyche of Harden and Westbrook, as it can seem impossible at times.

Although, Harden has succeeded with star backcourt mates like Westbrook and Chris Paul, a prominent big man could be useful. There has been speculation among league insiders that the Rockets may be willing to deal Westbrook for Joel Embiid, but such a deal would be difficult to pull off.

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Although newly promoted Houston Rockets GM Rafael Stone has an influx of decisions to make, trading Harden shouldn’t be one of them, as Smith correctly points out.