It's back to the drawing board for Houston Rockets. They've made the playoffs in each of the last eight seasons with James Harden but they've never had enough gas in the tank to make it to the NBA Finals. Most NBA trade rumors suggest that the franchise will try to add more pieces in the offseason to have another crack, but will it be worth it?
NBA Trade Rumors: Should Houston Rockets start rebuilding by moving James Harden?
The Houston Rockets have an important few months coming up. The lingering feeling of being stuck doesn't go away and a new head coach is set to come in. Is it time for GM Daryl Morey to consider a full-blown rebuild? James Harden isn't pushing for a move but it might be time for the Houston Rockets to consider trading him. Here are five reasons why.
#1 James Harden's trade value at its highest
Although James Harden turned 31 this year, he's still a phenomenal player. He was in the best shape of his career for the Houston Rockets this postseason and his defense has improved leaps and bounds.
Harden is easily the best scorer in the league right now and if he joins a team that already has a few stars, he'll make them immediate contenders. Although he's owed about $133 million over the next season, his performances make this expensive contract worth it for the time being.
#2 Returns would boost the rebuild process
Trading James Harden would yield a lot of assets for Houston Rockets that will give them a solid base to rebuild on. As of now, Houston only has four draft picks till 2023 and only two of them are first-rounders. The franchise doesn't have any young stud to build around either.
All of that could change if The Beard is moved. The other team would have to cough up young talents and a slew of draft picks, similar to what OKC Thunder received in return for Paul George.
#3 Little room for improvement
The Houston Rockets are dealing with two supermax deals right now. James Harden and Russell Westbrook are owed a combined $82 million next season and that leaves the franchise with little room to sign key players.
Houston's already above the salary cap and closing in on the luxury tax threshold. Free agents will also be hard to come by with the limited mid-level exception amount. Is it worth running the cycle again if the Rockets can't look good enough on paper at the very least?
#4 LA teams set to dominate the West
Even if the Houston Rockets manage to add valuable pieces to their current roster, there's still the proposition of how they'll overcome the two LA teams which are way ahead in the race and could improve in the following seasons.
LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard are contracted to the Lakers and Clippers respectively till 2022 considering they both use up their player options, which they're likely to as of today. By that time, James Harden could be past his prime so there's no guarantee that 2022-23 would be the Houston Rockets' season either.
#5 Financial situation
The future's seriously uncertain for the Houston Rockets. Competing for another championship could mean paying luxury tax as well. Without a sufficient probability of the team going all the way, would owner Tilman Fertitta want to take on such a financial load? The issue is heightened further by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
If Fertitta doesn't see the benefits of the fat contracts that James Harden and Russell Westbrook are on, he'd be well off trading both the superstars for young players who would come with a more favorable wage bill.
Published 15 Sep 2020, 20:00 IST