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James Harden reportedly turns down $50 million per year extension with Rockets

Ain’t rebuilding time fun?

NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The news keeps going from bad to worse, as it feels like it’s total blow up time for the Houston Rockets. In the wake of trading Robert Covington for a washed Trevor Ariza and draft picks, it’s now being reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that James Harden was offered a record-breaking extension that would have paid him $50 million per year and is now trying to force his way to the Brooklyn Nets via trade.

Not very re-assuring news, and with Covington on his way out the door and both Russell Westbrook and now Harden requesting to be traded, the writing is on the wall for the Rockets.

How badly must The Beard want out if he’s turning down $50 million per year ($136,986 per day, by the way)? When you turn down that kind of cheddar, the relationship is over, unfortunately.

New GM Rafael Stone is about to make or break his career with this situation. Harden doesn’t have a no-trade clause. The GM’s loyalty should be to the franchise, not the player, and getting the best deal possible should be the one and only goal.

There’s rumors that the Philadelphia 76ers could be in play also, and for me, that’s a much better move for the Rockets. There’s a good chance to extract Ben Simmons from Philly, and though I’m not in love with planning a rebuild around a guy who can’t shoot, he is just 24, meaning the team can invest in him long-term if they wish. And Simmons has other skills as a defender and distributor (8 assists per game for his career) that would make him more valuable than the bevy of only semi-useful role players that would likely come from the Nets.

Stone also needs to secure some additional draft picks for Harden. Its important to remember that whatever destination The Beard ends up likely becomes an immediate contender, so the draft picks are likely to be low. That’s why there needs to be multiple. Harden is a top 5 player in the league in his prime. If you’re going to rebuild, do it right. Get picks for your star player and a young, potential stud in Simmons.

If you can’t get what you want, you keep Harden until you do. You can’t let one player hold the franchise hostage, even one who’s been the face of the franchise for damn near a decade.

No, it’s all about the future now. I’m ready to embrace the rebuild, but only if it’s done right.