When an NBA franchise decides to enter a rebuilding phase they have a tendency to massage the truth and the Houston Rockets are no different. In a recent press conference, Rockets’ general manager, Rafael Stone, had an interesting take on the state of the Rockets in relation to the James Harden trade.
“[We think it helped] position us to maybe not have to be bad. There’s some other things we’ve done to help that too, but it’s primarily that deal that’s allowed us to say, ‘Hey, we want to compete on a slightly quicker time frame.’ We’re not going to go down this path of intentionally trying to lose games for years on end.”
While details have never fully emerged, the Rockets, through the James Harden trade, could have landed Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert from the Brooklyn Nets. Both are young talented players that would have instantly made the Rockets better this year and next.
It can’t be forgotten that Ben Simmons was reportedly offered by the Philadelphia 76ers for Harden, which makes Stone’s comments about wanting to, “compete on a slightly quicker time frame,” appear to be disingenuous. If the Rockets wanted to compete quickly, why would they eschew trades that would have landed them competent NBA players for a draft pick haul that won’t have much value until 2025?
Rafael Stone is massaging the truth. NBA general managers do it all the time and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. However, if the Rockets are lying about having a quick rebuild, then it’s reasonable to believe that the Rockets are engaging in a process-esqu teardown.
The Rockets’ return for James Harden won’t make their rebuild quicker, it might make their rebuild better, but it definitely won’t make it quicker. With that in mind, if the Rockets really want to speed up their rebuild’s timeline then they should seriously consider trading Christian Wood.
Next: Christian Wood's trade value is at an all-time high