It’s more than a month since it was learned that star James Harden of the Houston Rockets had turned down a two-year, $103 million contract extension in favor of an agreement with the Brooklyn Nets. Since then, the situation has gotten out of hand: Harden arrived at training camp a few days late after partying in Las Vegas, got into an argument with a teammate at practice and went to a strip club without a mask, leading to an investigation and a $50,000 fine from the NBA for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
It seems that every day there are new stories about the MVP and the Rockets of 2018. The latter is an article from The Athletic about the Boston Celtics and the Portland Trail Blazers that has been added to the list of favorite destinations. Over the years, many dissatisfied stars have forced their teams to close deals, especially at a time when players were more confident and had more say in how they wanted to use their talents.
However, Harden’s case pushes the players a little further and complicates matters, especially as the NBA tries to end a 72-game season in the middle of the COWID-19 pandemic and outside the bubble. The Rockets have discussed the possibility of swapping with different teams, but so far their requests for the 31-year-old player have not been granted, and the question is whether the team can actually achieve the requested prize.
But in recent weeks it has become clear that Houston needs to break away from the eighth edition of the All Star, a step that will be advantageous for both sides. Here are three reasons why the Rockets should trade Harden:
1. Avoiding more current and future tragedies
As if their chaotic off-season wasn’t enough, the Rockets’ season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder was also postponed after an outbreak of COWID-19 among their players. Harden wasn’t considered the cause of the outbreak, but he did force the team to quarantine some of his teammates, such as B. newcomers John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, who are expected to make their debut for the Rockets.
The report that Harden threw the ball to rookie Jae’Sean Tate after a heated exchange during training is surprising, especially since the eighth All Star is best known for his relaxed personality. But these reports highlight the growing frustration of the former MVP with the commercial demand and the current market situation. With the season already underway, Houston can best avoid the drama by sending Harden to one of his favourite destinations.
It has been just over a month since Harden expressed his wish to play elsewhere, but the situation has become messy as the season approaches. It is unclear how this distraction will affect her teammates and the mood of the team as she tries to remain a contender in the tough Western conference, but the sooner the Rockets can separate with their star, the better for their current and future lives.
2. Advancing the missiles
With the exchange for Wall and the signing of Cousins and the great Christian Wood, the new general manager of the Rockets, Rafael Stone, made it clear that the Rockets would rather fight this season than rebuild as Thunder. The lineup with Harden, Wall, Cousins, Wood and key players like Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker still gives Houston the chance to keep pace with the Western Conference and make the playoffs for the ninth consecutive year.
However, the off-season moves were apparently not enough to convince Harden to stay in Houston, which became clear when he refused an extension and asked to be exchanged for a competitor. Even if they don’t get the award for the former sixth man of the year, the best commercial package that the Missiles for Harden can get will still consist of a current or potential All Star, a few rotating players and future draft picks.
A player like Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers, Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets or Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets should be able to help the Rockets immediately. These players are not Harden, who helped the Rockets to the play-offs for eight seasons, but these players are rare and probably want to play for their new team.
3. Beginning of a new chapter in Harden’s career
When former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was traded to Harden eight years ago, he had just reached the NBA finals but played in the shadow of his former Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But his time in Houston proved that Beard can be a star and be the best player on the team.
While at Link City, Harden led the Missiles to eight seasons of at least 41 victories and two tours to the Western Conference finals, establishing themselves as one of the league’s top players. But after losing the Los Angeles Lakers in the semifinals of the 2020 conference, the Rockets have changed a lot, including the system Harden is used to. Maury and former coach Mike D’Antoni have disappeared, replaced by Stone and new coach Steven Silas.
The team has achieved a lot with the former Arizona State Sun Devil as star. After Chris Paul’s injury he hasn’t reached the last two seasons. However, after rejecting a contract extension this season, he sent a message that he wants to play the next chapter of his career with another team, even though the Rockets tried to convince him to stay this season.
It is hard to imagine that Harden wears a different uniform than the usual red and white sweaters of the Rockets. But handing over a disgruntled star to another team instead of trying to keep it, not only helps Harden to fight for that elusive first championship, but also helps Houston to prepare for what lies ahead, whether it stays in the race or tries to get out and rebuild through the reruns.