Just days after the Harden trade went down, all of Red Nation is still trying to process it and formulate their opinions, especially here at The Dream Shake.
We’ve put together all of our thoughts, opinions and concerns into one article to try and encompass all of our differing opinions in one spot.
For this edition of the Roundtable, we have Jeremy Brener (JB), Darren Yuvan (DY), Coty Davis (CD) and Conrad Garcia (CG).
Feel free to join the conversation in the comments section below:
Was this the right time for the Rockets to make the trade?
Jeremy Brener (@JeremyBrener): Yes. They pulled the trigger at exactly the right time. When Daryl Morey was here, I always found a way to trust every move he made. Rafael Stone is starting to enter a similar type of trust with me. He’s been a disciple of the Morey regime and I think he did right by the organization by respecting this team and giving them some time to develop. James accelerated that process and basically forced their hand. I’m glad they didn’t try to call his bluff again.
Darren Yuvan (@Darren Yuvan): Is there ever a right time for a trade like this? You’re never going to get max value for a James Harden, so as long as you trade him sometime before his obvious athletic decline, it’s all the same to me. But Harden was not only out of shape and disinterested, but appeared to be actively sabotaging team chemistry, so I’m glad he’s playing over near Fulton Street now (my old hood, actually). I said this in the breaking news piece, but I’m a Houston Rockets fan over anything. If he didn’t want to be here, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
Coty M. Davis (@Cotydavis_24): Yes. In my opinion, I wish the Rockets would have traded Harden before the season started. You brought in a new coach. There was an entire reset on the roster. It was time for a new culture in Houston. So why hold on to something that had clearly run its course? I knew this situation was going to get ugly for the Rockets. And after nine games of trying to hold on to Harden, it may have put a damper on the rest of the season.
Conrad Garcia (@ConradBuckets): Yes. Honestly, this trade should have happened sooner before Harden had an opportunity to look like a heel and tarnish his reputation here with some people. There’s a lot of people that wanted for Houston to wait longer and potentially get a better deal, but things would have gotten much more ugly before they got better, and that’s not something anyone would have wanted to see.
Did the Rockets get enough compensation for James Harden?
JB: Stone asked for a king’s ransom, and I believe he got it. Four unprotected first round picks and four pick swaps is good value and hopefully those later picks will turn into high picks for the Rockets. If the Nets don’t win a title with their Big 3, it will doom their franchise for the next 10-15 years. Stone now has an abundance of control in shaping the team how he sees fit and I think he’s put the Rockets on a path to where they can succeed longterm. It may not be pretty in these next few years, but we’re following the blueprint on how to build a contender.
DY: Obviously I love the picks. It’s the biggest draft compensation in NBA history, I believe. But... I really wish the Rockets would have gotten a useful long-term player out of the deal, because I don’t think Victor Oladipo is going to be here long. In fact, there’s already rumors he has no desire to come to H-town. He’ll come, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him moved by the trade deadline. That’s my only beef is with the lack of anything truly useful on-court in return. But if Stone can find a way to turn Oladipo’s expiring and/or a “bounced back” John Wall and some or all of that draft compensation into Houston’s next superstar era, then I’m pleased. Stone appears to be playing the long game, and I’m here and patient for it, because I think he’s already shown he deserves it, but it’s imperative that he upgrades moving forward with all that ammo and doesn’t just spin the tires in the mud of mediocrity.
CD: It is hard to say right now. A big portion of this trade will depend on what happens with Victor Oladipo. If Oladipo comes here and showcases the same potential that made him a two-time All-Star with the Pacers, great. If Stone can flip Oladipo for either more draft compensation or a young promising player, even better. But if Houston allows Oladipo to walk in free agency, not so great. Then this deal will look like the Rockets traded Harden just for future draft picks.
CG: I’m very, very low on this trade, but I also am not looking forward to retooling. It’s difficult to go from having a guaranteed playoff spot/contender every year, to not knowing when and if you’ll ever get a talent like Harden’s again. That being said, what the Rockets got in the trade means a TON of potential for draftees, trades, signings, you name it. I’m OK with it, and there’s the potential of something really great coming out of it. I, of course, definitely thought Houston should have gotten a minimum Ben Simmons-level talent out of it.
What does James’s departure mean for the team for the rest of the season?
JB: I’ll be honest. The Rockets are going to have a difficult time contending for the playoffs. The play-in tournament could be a real likelihood for them as I think they have pieces to be competitive but not enough to get past the first round. It will be nice to see a CP3-OKC-like team, but that’s their zenith. They also have a lot stacked against them. Thankfully though, it’s early in the season.
DY: The Western Conference is stacked, and the Rockets have no one that can carry them through it. They’ll be fun, they’ll win some games, and they’ll have heart, but I don’t think they make the playoffs now. In fact, even though theoretically I want to watch wins, if the Rockets finish with a top-four pick, they get to keep it. Otherwise, it’s heading to OKC. I’m never in favor of tanking, because ultimately you’re putting a product out for public consumption, and the responsibility is to make it as good as possible, but if they suck, I won’t be mad... as long as they suck enough to really suck, not just enough to not make the playoffs.
CD: I believe this team is talented enough to turn their season around. And I do think we will see the Rockets play better once all trades are finalized. However, with the Rockets playing in the Western Conference, I believe the slow start to the season will prevent them from qualifying for the playoffs. Which is another reason why I hoped the Rockets moved on from Harden before the season got started.
CG: The Rockets are #blessed enough to have actual talent/good players on their team on their team. Wall, Wood, Oladipo, and Cousins are a lot more than other teams have. Heck, there’s still the potential of Eric Gordon making something of this season. This team can compete for a bottom three playoff spot, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise if they miss the playoffs either. The West, of course, is always truly that good.
What did you think about the Rockets flipping Caris LeVert for Victor Oladipo?
JB: This deal surprised me, I won’t lie. But it’s clear the Rockets see something in Vic that LeVert couldn’t provide. Of course, you get the flexibility of Oladipo’s expiring deal that will allow you to get even more assets, and ultimately that’s what I think the deal will become. I hope Vic can be a Kevin Martin type of guy that will keep the Rockets somewhat relevant over the next few seasons, but I can’t imagine he’ll be a Rocket at the beginning of next season.
DY: I mentioned Oladipo above, but I can elaborate a little here in that I personally would prefer Caris LeVert in the long term, because I’m not even sure Oladipo is fully healthy, but it’s obvious that Rafael Stone has something in mind in acquiring ‘Dipo’s expiring deal. It all depends on what this turns into. Acquire something better down the line using Oladipo or assets obtained from his expiring, then I like it. Lose him for nothing or continue to stay pat from an overall talent standpoint, then I think it could be a mistake. In Stone we trust until proven otherwise, though.
CD: At first, I was excited about flipping Caris LeVert for Oladipo. I love his style of play. To me, he is one of the most underrated players in the league. But with reports coming out that he does not want to play in Houston, I kinda wish the Rockets had kept LeVert.
CG: I’m pretty sure everyone else wrote their response before it was revealed during LeVert’s physical that he had a small mass in his left kidney. So, let me address for everyone here that we hope he’s doing well and nothing further comes from this but good health. That being said, I was not concerned with either player being a serious factor for Houston going forward, and I’m actually happy that they received Oladipo and have flexibility with his expiring contract at the end of the season.
Grade the trade.
JB: I’m giving this a B. They got the king’s ransom they were looking for. They might not have gotten that current rebuilding foundation piece they were looking for but they got a lot for Harden at a time when his value was at his peak. His press conference from Tuesday didn’t diminish his value and the Rockets did right by the team and by Harden as well, who will have his jersey hanging from the rafters someday. There might be pain now, but I think once time allows it to heal, Harden will be remembered as a Rockets icon.
DY: I also have a B for the deal. A+ on the draft compensation and a C- for the players acquired averages out to a solid B for me. We’ll see what happens down the line with what all this gets turned into.
CD: I agree with my colleagues on this one. I am also giving the Rockets a B. Unless Rafael Stone was able to go back in time and trade for ‘91 Jordan, ‘06 Kobe or ‘13 LeBron, the Rockets were not going to come close to surpassing or finding equal value for James Harden. But like I mentioned before, a great deal of this trade will depend on what will happen with Oladipo and how they use their draft picks. It is a sad ending to the Harden era. However, let us not forget what he did for the organization and this city since he arrived in 2012. Just think, the only player ahead of Harden on the Rockets’ all-time list is Hakeem Olajuwon. That’s saying a lot.
CG: Let’s be honest: the trade grade is probably lower for everyone here if the Rockets don’t have a guy like Christian Wood. Wall and Wood really take the edge off of losing Harden. A solid amount of picks, pick swaps, and acquiring an expiring contract in Oladipo gives Houston a lot of potential in the future. The grade is a B with the potential of turning it into an A+ or an F — it all depends on what Stone does with what they acquired.
Grade the trade!
This poll is closed