Rockets News

Houston Rockets: Three trades the Raptors need to make to land James Harden

SAITAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 10: James Harden #13 of Houston Rockets drives to the basket against Pascal Siakam #43 of Toronto Raptors during the preseason match between Toronto Raptors and Houston Rockets at Saitama Super Arena on October 10, 2019 in Saitama, Japan. 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 Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
SAITAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 10: James Harden #13 of Houston Rockets drives to the basket against Pascal Siakam #43 of Toronto Raptors during the preseason match between Toronto Raptors and Houston Rockets at Saitama Super Arena on October 10, 2019 in Saitama, Japan. 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 Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors trade #3

The Houston Rockets, in a trade with the Toronto Raptors, will ask for Pascal Siakam and then start from there. Siakam’s stock has taken a hit over the past two seasons as he’s efficiency has dipped not playing next to Kawhi Leonard.

However, he remains a productive player that even when he’s not scoring in bunches remains an excellent defender. He’s under contract through the 2023-24 season and makes close to $10 million less than James Harden each of the next two seasons.

At only 26-years-old Siakam is entering his prime and a change of scenery could reinvigorate his lost offensive mojo. His lost scoring touch over the past two seasons has coincided with him having to create shots on his own, a trait he’ll need less of playing next to passing wizard John Wall.

In Siakam’s breakout season, 2018-19, 49.3-percent of his 2-point attempts were assisted but in each of the past two seasons that number has shrunk from 42.3-percent last season to 29.4-percent in the early going this year. It’s clear, at this stage in his career, that Siakam struggles to create shots as effectively with the ball in his hands and that he is most effective when cutting to the hoop and being fed the ball as he rumbles to the rim.

On a positive note, Siakam’s finishing at the rim has remained consistently excellent this year to the tune of 71.4-percent shooting, which is right in line with his career average, but it is his shooting from three feet to ten feet from the rim where he has struggled the most. He is shooting a career-worst 30-percent in this zone, but as a career 43.1 shooter in this area it’s likely he’ll see a bump in efficiency over the course of the season.

While Siakam would be the centerpiece of any Raptors move for Harden, the players that come along with him will be the key for the Raptors if they want to add the former MVP. Norman Powell, much like Siakam has struggled to start the season but he’s coming off of a season where he averaged 16 points a game on 49.5-percent shooting from the field and 39.9-percent from 3-point range.

His $10.8 million salary also makes a trade for Harden work for both teams’ salary cap situations and he has an $11 million player option for next season. If he opts out and enters free agency the Rockets will have freed up valuable cap space to bolster the roster and if he stays they’ll have a veteran player in their prime.

The Raptors also own all of their upcoming first-round draft picks but that won’t be the case if they trade for Harden. The Rockets will want four first-round picks and should end up getting the Raptors’ 2021, 2023, 2025, and 2027 first-round picks.

It’s likely that the 2021 first-round pick won’t end up being all that valuable but those picks in 2023, 2025, and 2027 could end up being high draft picks. Kyle Lowry is 34-years-old and Harden is 31 and only under contract for this season and the next before a player option.

There’s a possibility that after this two-year run with Harden the Raptors would be staring at a rebuild. However, after a 1-6 start the team might be watching the playoffs from home if they do nothing.

Next: Trade #2

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