When James Harden demanded a trade from the Houston Rockets it thrust the franchise into a state of panic. Harden had led the team to eight straight trips to the postseason, a franchise record, to their greatest regular-season wins total, 65, and outside of reaching the NBA Finals, he cemented himself as either the greatest or second-greatest player, behind Hakeem Olajuwon, in franchise history.
All told, the James Harden era was a rousing success but the sting of trading him will linger over his legacy for years. However, the return that the Rockets received for Harden has the potential to usher in a new era of Rockets’ success.
The next great Rockets team will likely have a direct link to the James Harden trade, either through the draft or through trades. With the franchise’s future riding on the return they received for Harden, one has to ask, could the Rockets have done better?
How to judge the James Harden trade
The best way to determine how the Rockets did is to look at other superstar trades and to see what other teams were interested in trading for Harden. The Nets gave up a lot to land Harden but would someone have given up even more?
No trade is perfect because both sides need to feel like they are getting something they want. The Rockets definitely could have gotten different trade packages but they would have provided value in different ways.
It’s impossible to say for certain what the Rockets prioritized above all in the James Harden trade, but it is certain that the franchise’s future will be determined by how it plays out. Here’s if they nailed the trade or if they should already regret it.
Next: Past superstar trades