james harden trade


Those are their chances to guarantee themselves the high draft picks that could lead their next true contender. Among cheaper ones than Gordon’s, the pickings are slim. We’ll dive into the specifics of those sorts of trades later on, but if the goal remains winning, the ideal candidate would be Gordon.
An all-in 2020-21 roster would cost Fertitta nearly $163 million in total. Dealing Harden now would at least give the Rockets a chance to keep a top-four pick in 2021. Westbrook’s shooting makes him unappealing to contenders.

Shooters, veterans looking to win, and free agents trying to use Texas’ lack of a state income tax to squeeze every possible dollar out of a poor market will lead the way. The Rockets have four players with options on the books. That’s eight players. Miami isn't going anywhere. Jeff Green is a must after his strong showing in the bubble. Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception (Year 1). Tilman Fertitta has never paid the luxury tax even in boom times. But by holding him that long, they risk watching his value decline. That includes a possible James Harden trade, at either the deadline or in the 2021 offseason, when a number of contenders will have the cap space to either partially or entirely absorb his contract. This would be unprecedented. Westbrook's shooting makes him unappealing to contenders. Houston could trade Tucker or Covington for savings, but doing so would almost certainly deprive the Rockets of whatever slim championship hopes they currently have. One note before beginning: we will be using 2019-20 cap numbers for this exercise. The truth is going to lie somewhere in between.

They probably won't even have the chance. While no coaching hire has been made, the presumed front-runner has the opposite problem.

The truth is going to lie somewhere in between.

The same can't be said for their other role players.

The 76ers aren't bringing in another non-shooter, even if it gets them off of Horford. Assuming they don’t, it’s hard to see them meaningfully competing in 2022 or beyond either. In other words, the Rockets could pay Gordon the $54.7 million he is guaranteed on its original three-year schedule, or they could pay him $7.8 million per year for the next season. The Clippers may be better. The cherry on top? Contenders have changed coaches and they've changed general managers, but never both at the same time, and never so soon after losing most of that general manager's top lieutenants.

They probably aren’t going to spend anything beyond the minimum on free agents. That includes a possible James Harden trade, at either the deadline or in the 2021 offseason, when a number of contenders will have the cap space to either partially or entirely absorb his contract. If an injury ruins their title defense, there will be half-a-dozen teams ahead of Houston in the new pecking order. San Antonio, like Chicago, is trapped in mediocrity right now.

But the future isn’t necessarily at hand quite yet. Probably not, and while there are pennies to be pinched here (likely by eschewing a 15th player), that really means that someone from the core is going to be traded for financial reasons. Finding a suitor is nearly impossible. That's eight players.

In purely practical terms, that makes a rebuild the logical option. All of this spells out an amazingly unlikely likeliest scenario: for the first time in Fertitta's ownership, the Rockets are probably going to pay the tax. That can't be ruled out, but it seems as though the goal will be to reload rather than rebuild.

One first-round pick is not going to be enough for most teams to take on three years of Gordon’s salary, especially if the Rockets plan to keep winning. The Pistons don't have a long-term point guard, but might draft one in November, and Griffin's contract is a year shorter. But the future isn't necessarily at hand quite yet. A minimum-salary center or two would almost certainly be coming as well, just for the sake of emergency usage and lineup versatility.

The Rockets, therefore, have two years in which they could, and probably should, tank: 2021-22 and 2022-23. There is one other option, but it is a miserable one. Another meaningful difference: the Rockets could go whole hog on minimums and even fill out an entire 15-man roster.

That would take their team salary to just below $139.7 million, which would, in turn, generate a luxury tax bill of around $11.1 million. Fertitta seems to want to give winning with Harden one more try. It would take a truly desperate team to absorb that deal. That was the argument that led them to Paul's acquisition. By virtue of owing picks in 2024 and 2026, their 2023 and 2025 selections are off-limits from a trade perspective. The Stepien Rule prevents teams from being without first-round picks in consecutive seasons. Tucker, Covington and House need no introduction. Dealing Harden now would at least give the Rockets a chance to keep a top-four pick in 2021. They have only one tradeable first-round pick left: either the pick they wind up with in the 2021 swap (once the 2020 Draft passes and the Stepien Rule no longer applies), or their own in 2022. The bad contract brigade is out as well. But it looks like their franchise player is completely off-limits. All of this makes a very simple point: the future is bleak in Houston right now. They don’t control their own picks in 2024, 2025 or 2026 either, so a long-term Process-like plan doesn’t make sense either. Their roster is prohibitively expensive and, based on its demolition at the hands of the 2020 champion Lakers, is probably trending downward. The bad contract brigade is out as well.
Rivers at his minimum is a good value for the Rockets. An all-in 2020-21 roster would cost Fertitta nearly $163 million in total.

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