Recently, the Houston Rockets organization had NBA fans proverbial eyes locked on them as reports filled the waiver wire of the turmoil their players dealt with this season.
Prior to the NBA Draft, it was reported that superstar guard Russell Westbrook was unhappy and requested out of the team since there hadn’t been any “significant changes to the Rockets’ culture.” The star wasn’t alone, soon after role players P.J. Tucker, Daniel House, Eric Gordon, and Austin Rivers all were included in reports that detailed their displeasure throughout their up and down season.
Yet that wasn’t even the biggest piece of news this offseason. Former MVP and franchise centerpiece James Harden rejected a massive extension that would have awarded him over $100 million and made him the first NBA player to make $50 million a year. He now wants out reportedly as well. As it seems the Brooklyn Nets are the team he’d most like to go to, a team nobody expected previously called to see if there was the possibility of a deal. That team happens to be the Golden State Warriors.
With the pieces in play to make a deal happen, the conversation was had but never truly progressed. For the players that would have been included, it could be said that both sides would come out of the deal with a win. The Athletic’s Sham Charania discussed specific details from his perspective on the “Load Management” podcast.
“I heard that one a little bit before the injury to Klay,” Charania said. “I don’t even believe an offer was made. I think it was just an inquiry like, ‘We have a major potential offer here if you guys want to discuss.’
“Houston was open to hearing out different offers and proposals … but it never even progressed to that point.”
However, some now believe Harden would decline the trade if it were presented to him.
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Why Harden Would Decline The Trade
NBA Analyst and The Ringer host Bill Simmons believes that at some point both sides, Harden and the Rockets, will part ways. With that, a team he thinks that Harden won’t be traded to is the Warriors.
When probed for why Harden wouldn’t suit up in a Golden State uniform, Simmons responded with the improbability of a team having Harden, Steph Curry, and Draymond Green winning a championship this season.
“Here’s the problem if you’re Harden — you’re not winning the title if they do that, because Klay Thompson is out for the year,” Simmons said. “So you’re going to play with Steph Curry and Draymond Green and you’re not gonna win the title. You’re in the same spot you are now.
“So he’ll veto that … with no Klay Thompson, he’s not talking himself into that.”
Why Harden Should Agree To The Trade
For a trade of this magnitude to work the Warriors would have to give up a lot, which is expected. One of the primary ways for this to occur is if the Warriors offered Andrew Wiggins, newly drafted center James Wiseman, the protected 2021 Minnesota Timberwolves draft pick, and a host of other future draft selections.
In the case of the Rockets, they could receive plenty of picks from the Warriors. On top of this, they would move their franchise in a new direction, which is needed after trading away a major star.
In lieu of the trade that sent Westbrook to the Wizards for John Wall and a 1st round draft pick, they receive a good and still young swingman in Wiggins and Wiseman who could be looked at as the next generation alongside current stars Wall and the newly signed Demarcus Cousins. Being able to recreate a new version of their previous “Twin Towers” duo (Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson) with Cousins and Wiseman, they would develop into a formidable team with the role players previously mentioned finding increased roles, unlike last season.
For the Warriors, a trade like this puts them back into title contention immediately. While Klay Thompson, before his Achilles’ tear, would help to bolster those odds having the talent of Curry, Harden, and Green on the floor would make them the best trio in the western conference, let alone the NBA. They would have to find free agents willing to take a minimum deal to fill out the remainder of their roster but the Warriors are no stranger to that as it was one of the keys that helped them during their previous title runs.
Harden may very well decline the deal if it is given new life and presented to him. In today’s NBA playing alongside your friends, Kevin Durant in Brooklyn for the case of Harden, is more so looked at as how superteams are built. Yet if Harden thinks back to the success Durant had with the Warriors before and believes it still is possible, he may find himself in the driver’s seat for another NBA dynasty.