Culture of Hoops

Houston Rockets willing to trade James Harden for Carmelo Anthony

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

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We’ve all heard the rumors. We’ve all explored the scenarios. From the moment Carmelo Anthony decided to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent, a bunch of teams around the league gained hopes that they can land the 30-year-old megastar. The Houston Rockets are one of those teams and almost everyone around the league saw the potential the trio of Melo, James Harden, and Dwight Howard could have. However, the Houston Rockets are reportedly exploring another scenario. Some sources state that Houston is willing to trade away James Harden in order to land Melo. Let’s see how that can become reality and if it even makes sense for the Rockets.

The Rockets are accustomed to big moves, blockbuster deals, and superstar movement. That’s how they acquired James Harden two summers ago and that’s how they paired him with Dwight Howard, when they “stole” him from the Los Angeles Lakers last year. Now, the team has a clear goal. The Rockets want to become a legitimate title contender. They want to win the NBA championship and they won’t settle for anything else.

For sure, the duo of Harden and Howard completely transformed the team and it took it to the next level. But it was made obvious during the 2013-14 regular season and playoffs that the Rockets didn’t have enough to match against the elite teams of the Western Conference. They were considered as a dark horse in the race for the NBA championship and judging from the result they just weren’t as good as other powerhouses in the Western Conference.

This summer, though, Kevin McHale, Daryl Morey, and the rest of the Rockets’ front office are ready to make all those radical changes the team needs in order to contend for the title next season. Their first move was to trade away Omer Asik, clearing some cap space. Jeremy Lin is the next to probably see the exit door but in the meantime the Rockets are making a strong pitch for Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. And they will do whatever it takes to land one (or both) of them. Even if that means sacrificing James Harden.

Harden is a superstar. He was one of the most productive players in the NBA last season. He has completely changed the dynamics of the team since he first stepped foot in H-Town. But let’s face it. He is not as good as LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. It’s simple as that. And now that both megastars have made themselves available in the market, the Rockets won’t stay pat. They won’t settle for Harden if they have a chance to land Melo or LeBron or both of them.

Apart from Dwight Howard, everyone else with the Rockets roster is expendable. In other words, a potential duo of LeBron and Howard or Melo and Howard is much more preferable for the Houston Rockets than the Harden-Howard one.

Of course, lots of fans and other people around the organization oppose such a scenario. James Harden will be 25 years old this summer and that means he hasn’t yet entered his prime, unlike LeBron and Melo. Of course, we shouldn’t expect Harden to overpass LeBron, but the best basketball days of him belong to the future, not the past. So, why would the Rockets sacrifice a much younger superstar like Harden in order to acquire Carmelo Anthony, whose performance will inevitably start going downwards three or four seasons from now?

The answer is simple. The Rockets want to win a championship. They badly want to become one of the best teams in the NBA and they want it now. They can’t wait. They have waited long enough.

The great news about the Houston Rockets is that now that both LeBron and Melo are available in the market, they can land both of them. And that’s exactly when a potential trade of James Harden will come handy. After the trade of Omer Asik and assuming that the team will go on to move Jeremy Lin, too, they will be able to offer a max contract to either LeBron or Melo. But it will be almost impossible to do so for both of them. So, what the Rockets could do is to agree on a sign-and-trade with either the Miami Heat or the New York Knicks, offering James Harden in return for one of the two megastars. The Houston Rockets will have formed one of the best superstar trios ever in the history of the league and either the New York Knicks or the Miami Heat will have acquired a superstar who is just entering his prime as an exchange.

Lots of scenarios currently make headlines and the situation is very fluid. Melo and LeBron are also weighing their options and they are expected to take a decision sooner than later. Although their respective teams are considered as the frontrunners to re-sign them, nothing should be considered as certain and secured. In fact, the two buddies are reportedly intrigued by the possibility of joining forces. And yes, if you were James Harden, you shouldn’t be that certain about your future in Houston.

The Houston Rockets are expected to continue pitching for Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. And they will do whatever within their powers to upgrade their team during the summer. Great news for Rockets fans, who will see their team only getting better, even if Houston doesn’t manage to land one of the two megastars. The Miami Heat and the New York Knicks should definitely feel threatened.


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