Trade number 1
At first glance, this trade seems insane but in reality, it’s a trade of two 31-year-old superstars. Since Harden is a better player than Jimmy Butler the Rockets might ask for another player and will definitely demand a few draft picks but a straight swap of the two works for both parties.
The Heat get an upgrade and the Rockets get a player who can lead the franchise to the postseason for the next few seasons. Butler is one of the league’s best two-way players and his insane competitiveness can completely change the culture of a franchise.
Last season he averaged 19.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6 assists per game, which on the surface paints a player who is far inferior to Harden but his advanced metrics tell a different story.
Per 100 possessions Butler posted an offensive rating of 123 compared to Harden’s 120. They both posted a 108 defensive rating, which means Butler bested Harden in net-rating by +3.
Butler is not the all-encompassing offensive force that Harden is, but he is able to score and pass at an elite level and most importantly he is one of the best high-usage players at avoiding turnovers. His 11.4-percent turnover rate beat Harden’s 14.2-percent last season and helps to explain why Butler was able to close the gap between him and Harden.
Would the Heat be better? Absolutely. Would the Heat want to jettison the player who most embodies their organization ethos? Absolutely not. However, if the Heat want to return to the finals this move allows them to retain their young core and improve their ceiling.
The Rockets’ would love to receive a player as talented as Jimmy Butler in return for James Harden. This deal is crazy, but it’s just crazy enough to work.