Could the Houston Rockets have gotten more for James Harden?

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Los Angeles Lakers Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Clippers Paul George (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets: What did past superstar trades look like?

The two most recent and comparable superstar trades are the Los Angeles Lakers’ move for Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Clippers’ trade for Paul George. Both players were coming off of near MVP level seasons, much like Harden, and both players were relatively close to free agency.

The Anthony Davis trade

Going into a bit more detail on the draft pick compensation the Pelicans received an absolute haul. They got the fourth overall pick in the 2019 draft, their 2021 pick from the Lakers is top-8 protected for the Pelicans, which means if it’s outside of the top eight picks it becomes an unprotected 2022 pick, a pick swap in 2023, and finally an unprotected 2024 first-round pick that can be deferred until 2025.

The value of the fourth overall pick is immense but being able to deffer the 2024 unprotected pick to 2025 was a stroke of genius. The Lakers might not be horrible in 2025, but LeBron will be 40 by then so having that quirk built-in was a masterstroke.

The Paul George trade

The Thunder’s draft pick compensation comes with two picks via the Miami Heat which likely won’t be that valuable as the team has a strong young core. However, the first-round picks and swaps from 2024 to 2026 could end up being incredibly valuable as the Clippers are up against the salary-cap and Paul Geroge and Kawhi Leonard are entering the backend of their primes.

What stands out about both of these trades is that in return for their superstar the other team received one young player that had All-Star potential. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Brandon Ingram have both lived up to their potential in their new homes and the general consensus was that the Rockets would look for a similar type of player to headline their Harden package.

Between these two deals, the average return was one young player with All-Star potential, a young role player or established veteran, four first-round picks, and one and a half pick swaps. With the bar now set for a superstar, how did the Rockets do?

Next: Examining the James Harden trade