Should the Rockets actually trade James Harden?
After losing to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs for two consecutive years, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has reportedly looked into the possibility of performing a complete overhaul on his current roster.
This does not come as a surprise, as Houston’s second-round loss to the Warriors in the playoffs — coupled with their season-long struggles caused by a number of internal issues — only proved that there is indeed an inherent problem with the current buildup of their team.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski himself, Morey has pretty much put the team’s entire roster on the trading block as a response to this current dilemma.
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has made his entire roster and future draft picks available in trade talks, a dramatic initiative with hopes of reshaping the team into a championship contender, league sources told ESPN.
The possibility of trading All-NBA guard James Harden is believed to be extremely limited, but the rest of the roster — including even Chris Paul and Clint Capela — could be more realistic trade targets, sources said.
This is a pretty bold move from the Rockets front office, but at this point, it does seem to be the only logical solution to the problem at hand.
Nonetheless, what we want to focus on here today is how Woj noted that reigning MVP James Harden’s availability is currently “extremely limited.” By not explicitly saying that Harden is untouchable, Woj pretty much implied that the possibility of moving their cornerstone superstar is something that the Rockets might — at the very least — be exploring.
Harden’s price tag would unquestionably be one of the highest ones we’ve ever seen in league history, and this is for good reason. The Rockets would get so much value in return if they were to trade away Harden, but the big question is, should they?
In our mind, this becomes a matter of perspective for the Rockets. Moving Harden would have so much implications not only on the team, but on the entire league as well. This is the type of move that would change the landscape of the NBA, and in the process, would single handedly establish the type of direction Houston are going to take in the next few years.
The obvious answer here is no. Why would anyone want to trade away a potential back-to-back MVP winner in his prime? Who would even consider parting ways with one of the greatest offensive players the league as ever seen? The Rockets have an absolute gem in Harden, and in most cases, teams would do absolutely everything in their power to keep this type of asset on board.
At 29, Harden is at the peak of his career, and he just had arguably his best season to date (36.1 points, 4.8 three-pointers, 6.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 2.o steals, and 0.7 blocks per contest). Regardless of who the Rockets surround him with next season, the seven-time All-Star should still be able to put up stellar numbers for Houston, and he can still absolutely fill the role of the team’s cornerstone star for the coming years.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, though, they are in anything but a typical scenario. The way their past two seasons have ended have left them with no choice but to completely blow up their current roster. What better way to do this than to start at the very top?
If the Rockets indeed come to the conclusion that they are now ready and willing to move on from the James Harden era, then now would be the absolute best time to deal him out — also because of all the reasons stated above. Not only should Houston acquire one or two superstar-caliber players in a potential Harden deal, but this would likely also come with future draft picks which would give more security for their team for the foreseeable future.
At the end of the day, the Rockets need to make a decision now. If they still see Harden as their messiah, then they should continue to build the team around him, and if this requires trading everybody else but him, then so be it.
However, if Houston decides that the time has come to pull the plug on Harden’s time, then they will need to move swiftly and delicately. It’s not everyday that you trade away a bona fide superstar in his prime, so this in itself is definitely not going to be an easy task.