Houston Rockets: Grading the James Harden trades not taken

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Caris LeVert #22 of the Indiana Pacers (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets James Harden trade not taken: The Indiana Pacers trade

Grading this exchange is incredibly difficult. Oladipo saw his play diminish in Houston before being traded to the Miami Heat but LeVert missed a significant portion of the season being treated for and recovering from surgery to remove a cancerous mass from his kidney.

If just Oladipo and LeVert’s performances are compared, the Rockets look like the definite losers. Oladipo averaged 21.2 points and 5 assists a game on 40.7-percent shooting from the field in Houston, compared to LeVert’s 20.7 points and 4.7 assists on 44.3-percent shooting.

On a per 36 minute basis, the two produced nearly identical scoring and assist numbers, with the only difference being that LeVert did it more efficiently. LeVert was clearly the better player than Oladipo in 2020-21 but their contract situations offer us a potential win in the Rockets’ favor.

Related Story. Grading the Victor Oladipo trade

LeVert is under contract for two more seasons at $17.5 million and $18.7 million, while Oladipo is currently a free agent. Some would argue that the team control for LeVert is valuable but that isn’t the case for the Rockets who already have over $60 million in salary committed to Eric Gordon and John Wall each of the next two seasons.

LeVert is a fine player that doesn’t move the needle much on the court and does so at a relatively expensive price. For a team entering a rebuild, he just doesn’t make a lot of sense, if the Rockets had kept him they’d end up in the same position they were inevitably in with Oladipo searching for a trade partner.

Houston Rockets Trade Grade (if they had kept LeVert): C