The Houston Rockets didn’t waste time executing a trade for Russell Westbrook— sending him to the Washington Wizards in exchange for John Wall. Could the Rockets look to shock the NBA and move on from James Harden next via trade?
According to ESPN’s NBA Insiders, the Rockets not allow Harden to ‘just bully his way’ to his preferred destination— Brooklyn Nets. It will require a ‘king’s ransom’ in any potential trade package featuring Harden.
With two guaranteed seasons remaining on his contract, Harden can’t just bully his way to his desired destination of Brooklyn. The Rockets have made it clear that they’d require a king’s ransom — starting with a young franchise cornerstone and a massive picks package, per sources — in any potential deal for Harden. (Houston understood that Westbrook had much less market value and pounced when the asset of a protected first-round pick was attached to Wall.)
The Brooklyn Nets do not appear to have any young franchise cornerstones and lack much for intriguing NBA Draft assets— making them a difficult landing spot to envision for Harden. A different team would seemingly need to take the risk to acquire the NBA superstar.
The primary course of action for the Rockets remains clear— attempt to win with Harden and change his stance on wanting to be traded. There’s a real risk with this strategy when considering both DeMarcus Cousins and Wall are coming off multiple season-ending injuries. Also, there are similar limitations to Wall’s skill-set compared to Russell Westbrook.
The absolute best-case-scenario for the Rockets is that Christian Wood steps in and makes a huge impact with James Harden. Also, ideally, DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall would stay healthy and can recover most of their pre-injury form. For now, the results remain to be seen.
Navigating the near-future could become challenging for the Houston Rockets if things don’t go well early in the upcoming NBA season. James Harden’s desire to be traded is already clear and it would only grow with potential shortcomings from a radically new team.