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Would the Houston Rockets really trade James Harden to the Mavericks?

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 18: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets waits on the court with Chandler Parsons #25 of the Dallas Mavericks during Game One in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs on April 18, 2015 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 18: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets waits on the court with Chandler Parsons #25 of the Dallas Mavericks during Game One in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs on April 18, 2015 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)

Do the Dallas Mavericks have enough to entice the Houston Rockets?

The Dallas Mavericks are in an enviable salary-cap position. They have Luka Doncic under contract for the next two seasons for a total of $18.2 million.

On the open market, Doncic would receive the max and secure double of that total each season. There might not be a better contract in the entire league, which gives them a short window to surround him with multiple stars.

The issue for the Mavericks is that their only other marquee player, Kristaps Porzingis, would be demanded by the Rockets in a trade for James Harden. A big three of Doncic, Harden, and Porzingis would be one of the best offensive trios in league history but it’s very likely that Porzingis would be the Mavericks ticket to Harden.

This would represent a light return for Harden and part of the problem is that to acquire Porzingis in the first place the Mavericks had to send a bunch of draft picks to the New York Knicks. The only way a deal like this would work is if the Mavericks don’t provide any protections for future picks and throw in a few pick swaps.

However, the Mavericks would like to keep Porzingis, which will make a deal much harder. The Mavericks have good role players but outside of Doncic and Porzingis, they don’t have any young up and coming all-stars to send to the Rockets.

If the Rockets want to clear out cap space and start a drawn-out rebuild then the Mavericks could provide them with some valuable assets. That being said, a trade like this would rightly draw the ire of Rockets’ fans.

The incoming talent is light for the Rockets but it would allow the Rockets to start a rebuild and open up cap space over the next few seasons. Hardaway Jr. is a solid player on an expiring contract who could be flipped for more assets.

He’s 27-years-old and coming off of a career year where he hit 39.8-percent of his threes on 7.8 attempts per game. Hardaway’s salary might be overpaid at $18.9 million but he remains a good player and will have serious value at the trade deadline.

Josh Richardson is the quintessential 3-and-D player, Dorian Finney-Smith is a solid rotation option on a fantastic contract the next two seasons, and Tyrell Terry is an interesting prospect with limitless shooting range. These guys aren’t All-Stars but teams looking to round out a championship roster would want any of these guys and could net the Rockets serious draft pick compensation.

However, the Rockets won’t make this deal unless there are no available options because it essentially thrusts the franchise into a full-on rebuild. Snagging a bunch of first-round picks for James Harden is not a fair return and the Rockets know that.

The Mavericks can offer the Rockets a trade worthy of James Harden but it remains to be seen if they’d be willing to part with the necessary pieces to make it happen. Assuming the Mavericks push their chips in for James Harden, would they be left with enough to challenge for a title?

Next: Would the Mavericks have enough after trading for Harden?

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