Pro No. 3: Restock the cupboard
As mentioned earlier, the Rockets have placed their future drafts in the hands of Sam Presti and the OKC Thunder. Any trade of James Harden should net a massive return of draft picks that resembles the hauls for Paul George and Anthony Davis.
The Paul George trade netted OKC five future first-round picks and two pick swaps, while the Anthony Davis deal got the Pelicans three first-round picks, including the 4th overall pick in the 2019 draft, and a pick swap. Those draft packages are where the Rockets need to start if they’re going to move on from Harden.
While future draft picks, especially ones that are protected, can quickly turn into a bunch of late first-round picks there is always the potential for the picks to net a useful player or two. The protections that are placed on any draft compensation will go a long way in determining its value but it’s here that the Rockets have a large amount of leverage.
The bidding for Harden will get intense and a team placing lack protections or none at all could be the trump card that secures them the former MVP. Any trade of Harden will come down to how well the Rockets draft but restocking their asset cupboard, left bare by the Russell Westbrook trade, gives the franchise hope for a brighter future.
The beauty of draft picks is that they can be moved for NBA players or be used to select cost-controlled prospects. There is a real danger for the Rockets in pursuing a rebuild through the draft but being armed with more picks will give them the flexibility to make moves that they can’t make right now.
Next: Pro no. 2