How Giannis signing an extension will affect a James Harden trade

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
4 of 4
Houston Rockets
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

#1 James Harden’s price just went up

Leverage is everything in negotiations and the Rockets currently have all of it. First, Harden is under contract for two more seasons, and second, he is the best available option this and next season to upgrade your roster for a title challenge.

Teams and fans might argue that Kawhi Leonard holds that distinction but he’s currently on the Clippers and with Paul George’s extension it seems more likely that he will stay in Los Angeles long term. Also, Harden can be had for two-postseasons before he’s a free agent which, for contenders, makes a world of difference.

Waiting a season in the hopes of signing Kawhi is far riskier than giving up the farm to have Harden for two seasons. The Houston Rockets know that he represents the best available upgrade for the 2021 and 2022 Finals.

If the Rockets’ asking price for James Harden was high before then it has gone up to another level. There is no more dreaming of signing Giannis in the summer and with that reality comes the truth that Harden might be your only ticket to the finals.

He has been one of the five best players in the league for the past five years. He never misses games. He wins scoring titles. He flat out makes any team better.

The Lakers are loaded and the Bucks have the best player in the league locked up for the next five seasons. If a franchise has aspirations of leapfrogging those teams they’ll need reinforcements.

Anthony Davis and Paul George garnered returns that were heavy on talented NBA players and draft picks. The Rockets know that offer exists and with a bidding war brewing, they could see a return that bests those two.

It’s going to cost an arm and leg to land the beard but it’ll be worth it. James Harden is the best available player and the best antidote to the disappointment of missing out on Giannis.

3 trades that send James Harden to the Miami Heat. Next

The happiest fan base right now is the Bucks, but after that, it should be Rockets fans. James Harden might not be in town for the long haul but the franchise is going to be set up for the next decade because of his departure.