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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
OG Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/)

Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors trade #1

Outside of Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby is the Raptors’ best young asset that the Rockets would be interested in. However, due to him recently signing an extension and still being on his rookie contract it makes him incredibly difficult to move.

Anunoby is set to make $3.8 million this season but next season his four-year $72 million extension kicks in. Due to NBA rules, this makes him a very difficult contract to move because the salary going out from Toronto is his salary for this season, but the salary coming into the Rockets is based upon his average salary over the course of his extension.

In simple terms, when Anunoby is traded, $3.8 million is subtracted from the Raptors’ salary cap, while $21.8 million is added to the Rockets’. With Siakam and his $30.5 million salary and Anunoby’s $21.8 million salary coming in, the Rockets will need to move on from Eric Gordon’s $16.8 million commitment this season.

The Raptors, to offset the incoming $58 million in salary from Harden and Gordon, would need to send out Norman Powell and Patrick McCaw to the New York Knicks who have the salary cap space to absorb their contracts. The Knicks would get one of the Raptors’ first-round picks and add two veterans that could help them this season but won’t be on the books long term so they can maintain their future financial flexibility.

Pascal Siakam has been discussed at length but OG Anunoby is another good young player that looks to be miscast as a leading option. His defense is above average and his scoring last season saw massive improvements but it remains to be seen if he can be a lead ball handler.

Anunoby averaged 10.6 points on 50.5-percent shooting and 39-percent shooting from 3-point land last season. At 6’7 he projects as a 3-and-D stalwart capable of defending multiple positions and taking and making open shots from the perimeter.

If Anunoby were on a worse team, his scoring averages would look much more impressive but in Toronto, he has consistently been a third or four option on offense. In Houston that wouldn’t change in his first season as John Wall, Christian Wood, and Pascal Siakam would form the team’s offensive nucleus but he has the potential to be a competent third option on a title contender.

The defensive upside for lineups that feature the four of Wall, Wood, Siakam, and Anunoby would be immense. The combination of length and speed that this quartet possesses would allow the Rockets to swipe turnovers with ease and get out into transition.

Of the three trades, this deal provides the Rockets with the most NBA proven talent who are on reasonable contracts that tie them to the team for the foreseeable future. However, in landing both Siakam and Anunoby their draft pick compensation will be less and they’ll only receive two first-round picks.

5 teams that need to trade for James Harden. Next

The Raptors need an offensive jolt and securing both Harden and Gordon to play alongside Fred VanVleet would give them a formidable three-guard lineup to blitz opponents. The Rockets get young and cheaper, while also remaining a competitive team this season and into the future.

The Raptors need James Harden and the Rockets need to trade him for all he’s worth. They say necessity is the mother of all invention, but in this case, it is the mother of all trades.

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