When the Houston Rockets were shopping James Harden, it was reported that they were looking for a young franchise cornerstone, which seemed to be a fair asking price for Harden, one of the game’s best scorers in league history. The Rockets were linked to players such as Jaylen Brown and Michael Porter Jr., who they reportedly had interest in.
The Rockets were reportedly offered 24-year-old Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons, but ultimately turned it down for a deal from the Brooklyn Nets, which netted them a historic haul of draft picks. In the deal, the Rockets landed three unprotected first-round picks from Brooklyn (2022, 2024, and 2026), a 2022 first-round pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers by way of Milwaukee (which was sent back to the Bucks in the recent P.J. Tucker trade), and pick swaps with the Nets in 2021, 2023, 2025, and 2027.
The Nets also gave up Taurean Prince, Jarrett Allen, and Caris LeVert, as they were essentially the only young prospects they had to offer at the time. But the Rockets decided against adding LeVert and Allen, as they sent LeVert to the Pacers for Victor Oladipo instead, who is on an expiring deal.
Almost immediately after the Rockets acquired Oladipo reports surfaced that he wanted to go to the Miami Heat instead, prompting Rockets general manager Rafael Stone to explain that the team hoped Oladipo would be a long-term fit with the franchise. The Rockets later offered Oladipo a two-year contract extension worth $45 million, which he rejected.
Why the Houston Rockets regret choosing Victor Oladipo over Caris LeVert
The Rockets have been shopping Oladipo in advance of Thursday’s trade deadline, and there have been varying reports regarding whether Oladipo holds any value. With the Oladipo experience surely over, ESPN Houston’s John Granato explained why the Rockets wouldn’t make the Oladipo trade again, if faced with the same option on The Bench.
“I talked to [Rockets owner] Tilman Fertitta the day they made the Oladipo trade. He was excited for Oladipo, to get him here with John Wall, another All-Star.
I think they thought they could change his mind. I don’t think they were familiar with his thinking.
They made a mistake bringing in Victor Oladipo. I think if they could do it again they’d take Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.
They should have done that. But Rafael Stone came up under Daryl Morey. He taught him that you’ve got to trade for a star.
He was a two-time All-Star. They always chase big names and Oladipo was a bigger name than either of those guys.”
Oladipo got off to a slow start through his first 11 games in Houston, averaging just 18.4 points on 38.6 percent from the field and 29.9 percent from three, but has averaged 24.7 points on nearly 43 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from deep over the last nine games.
LeVert initially missed the first 24 games after the trade, as it was detected that he had kidney cancer, which required surgery. With LeVert being just 26-years-old and under contract through 2023, many Houston Rockets fans have been wondering why the Rockets chose Oladipo over LeVert and Allen, who is also just 22-years-old and entering restricted free agency.
It’s safe to assume that this faction of fans likely share the same sentiment as Granato.