Houston Rockets: The 5 best trades for James Harden in the Eastern Conference

Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

5. Milwaukee Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks, more so than any other team, need to reach the NBA finals this year. The elephant in Milwaukee remains whether or not Giannis Antetokounmpo will sign a max-extension to stick with the only franchise he has known.

The Bucks swung for the fences this offseason and brought in Jrue Holiday to be their third star but botched a sign and trade of Bogdan Bogdanovic. They still remain the class of the Eastern Conference but they were the last two seasons and still failed to make the finals.

The arrival of James Harden would all but assure the Bucks of a trip to the finals and should be enough to convince Antetokounmpo that the franchise is serious about building a championship roster. The problem for the Bucks is that they spent most of their draft capital to acquire their third star, Jrue Holiday.

Their roster is not devoid of interesting young players and veterans but even a package built around Khris Middleton would come in light on the draft pick compensation. The Rockets can get a better offer than Middleton, Brook Lopez, Donte DiVincenzo, and the few picks the Bucks have.

That being said, if no other deal materializes, snagging Khris Middleton is not a bad consolation prize by any stretch of the imagination. While Giannis rightfully grabs all the headlines, Middleton has quietly emerged as one of the NBA’s most efficient scorers.

Last season he averaged 20.9 points per game on 49.7-percent field goal shooting, 41.5-percent 3-point shooting, and 91.6 percent free-throw shooting. Middleton was three made field goals away from becoming the ninth member of the 50-40-90 club, where a player averages at least 50-percent shooting from the field, 40-percent shooting from 3-point range, and 90-percent from the free-throw line.

Middleton’s points per game don’t do him justice either. The Bucks routinely blew their opponents out as their average margin of victory was 10.08, which led to Middleton only averaging 29.9 minutes of action a game.

On a per 36 minutes basis, Middleton averaged 25.2 points which was the 14th best in the league last season. There is no denying that Khris Middleton is a great player, it’s one of the reasons the Bucks have been so good the past few seasons, but he is not in the same conversation as Harden.

The Rockets would love to have Khris Middleton play alongside James Harden but I doubt they’d be happy swapping one for the other. This would represent a consolation prize for the Rockets and a coup for the Bucks, it’s not the worst deal imaginable but it ranks number five for a reason.

Next: Team number 4