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, Jarrett Allen #31 and Taurean Prince #2 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets James Harden trade not taken: The Brooklyn Nets trade

The Rockets could have become the team formerly known as the Brooklyn Nets. In exchange for Harden, they could have had the aforementioned Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, and the three first-round picks and four pick swaps they ended up with.

While the amount of picks and talent heading to Houston is alluring, it isn’t the type of return that a team entering a rebuild really wants. LeVert and Prince are owed a combined $32.5 million next season and any Allen extension would cost in excess of $20 million a season. Suddenly, the Rockets are way into the luxury tax and still not a playoff team.

Related Story. Projecting the Brooklyn Nets’ draft picks to 2027

The Rockets could have taken the Nets’ offer, without bringing in other teams, and looked to trade LeVert, Prince, and Allen individually but how much trade value would each of them actually have? Prince is a bench player making $15 million, Allen is an expiring contract that’s about to get expensive, and LeVert is an average player making above-average money.

As soon as the Rockets seriously engaged in trading James Harden their goal was to be as bad as possible over the next three seasons. Bringing in this trio would have made them just run-of-the-mill bad and their trade value wouldn’t offset the lost ping pong balls in the draft lottery.

Houston Rockets Trade Grade (if they had kept Allen, Prince, LeVert): D