At this point the Houston Rockets have to move James Harden. The immaturity on James Harden’s behalf has gone to new levels after a post in which he posted a cheesing emoji in the midst of him not reporting to the Houston Rockets. For an organization which has done everything possible to pair him with other stars in Dwight Howard,Chris Paul,and Russell Westbrook James Harden has come up short over the past 5-6 seasons with the Houston Rockets and has been unable to deliver a title for the Houston Rockets. I always gave him the benefit of the doubt making the transition from 6th man in Oklahoma City to a franchise player in Houston but Harden’s time in Houston is up which is why I believe the Rockets should trade him to the Clippers for Paul George and Lou Williams. The trade works financially and based of George’s performance in the bubble in Game 7 against the Nuggets to Rockets fans acquiring Paul George would be a disaster but in reality it is not let me explain.
I am not gauging Paul George based off what I saw from him in the bubble, it was not solely his fault the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets. He had multiple games against the Nuggets where he scored over 25 points and ultimately the blame should come down on Kawhi because he under-performed Game 7 as well only logging 14 points on 7-22 shooting, isn’t he the next coming of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant? That is what I was hearing last season after he beat a crippled Golden State Warrior team in the 2019 NBA Finals. For the Rockets losing James Harden will hurt but when you acquire a point guard the caliber of John Wall he is expendable since John Wall can carry an offense just as good as James Harden when healthy and won’t be taking over 10 3 pointers a night and make the Rockets’s offense stagnant. The Rockets have a new coach in Stephen Silas and with Mike D’Antoni and James Harden gone the Rockets could focus on switching up their identity on the offensive end.
With Paul George on the Rockets not only will they improve defensively but they will have a pretty balanced starting 5 with Wall/Gordon/George/Wood/Cousins. You can count on Wall,Gordon,George, and Wood to hold their own defensively as they are all supreme athletes and can all shoot from the perimeter and provide floor spacing. I don’t believe the Rockets would lose a beat if they acquire George in exchange for Harden for the simple fact that new head coach Stephen Silas will be looking to play from the inside out and the Rockets have a legitimate power-forward now in Christian Wood who can rebound,block shots,provide floor spacing,defense,and has a back to the basket game. The pick and roll between Wall and Wood should be interesting as well, Wall when healthy is arguably the best pure point-guard in the game it’s just been almost 3 years and NBA fans forgot.
As for the Clippers acquiring James Harden would definitely keep them in the race for a championship and it will be a massive task for Tyronn Lue to implement James Harden into the Clipper offense. Kawhi Leonard did mention the Clippers needed a play-maker and never specified if it had to be a point-guard or not so does James Harden not fit the mold? Harden can rack up 10 assists in a hurry the question is is he willing to adapt his game to play with someone who is arguably better than him in Kawhi Leonard? He never had to deal with that in Houston since Dwight Howard,Chris Paul,and Russell Westbrook were all considered inferior to James Harden in player ranking and not good enough to overtake him as the top dog there. Playing alongside Kawhi Leonard would take James Harden putting his ego to the side but if he buys in the Clippers could be a legitimate contender for the NBA title this coming season.
With James Harden on the Clippers there will be no need for them to trade for a point-guard at the trade deadline this coming season. Harden is so potent offensively Kawhi will be able to load manage through-out the season with ease and come playoff-time they would spell a threat to the Los Angeles Lakers. Kawhi Leonard won titles with the 2014 San Antonio Spurs who boasted Tony Parker,Manu Ginobili,and Tim Duncan all considered great passers and you had Gregg Poppovich as the architect behind the offense, Kawhi Leonard’s job was to defend at a high-level and knock down 3’s at that point. On the 2019 Toronto Raptors he was part of Nick Nurse’s motion offense and had multiple play-makers who allowed for him to settle into a go to scorer role. When you have a quarterback on offense like Kyle Lowry to go along with Fred VanVleet and Marc Gasol also considered exceptional play-makers you won’t have to worry about being the primary play-maker which was Kawhi had to be in the bubble this past season.
Bringing in James Harden will all but guarantee Kawhi Leonard opts in for the last season of his Clipper deal and possible extend for an additional couple years. I’ll assume James Harden does the same for the last season of his Rocket deal and we could see Harden and Leonard chase a title together over the next 3 seasons as they look to win the Clippers their first title in franchise history. As for the Rockets you are locked into John Wall for the next 2 seasons so they might as well look to re-structure because rebuilding won’t be a option since John Wall will keep them out of the lottery. Anyone who remembers how good John Wall knows he can put a team on his back and get them in the playoffs, that task will be harder since he will be out West now in what should be a tougher conference but if you give him a wing the caliber of a Paul George to go with 2 bigs who can get over 20 points and 10 rebounds a night in Christian Wood and Demarcus Cousins he will get the Rockets in the playoffs best believe, that is not mentioning Eric Gordon who is good for 20-30 points a night himself when healthy.
To conclude I think this swap works for both sides and keeps both the Clippers and Rockets in contention in the Western Conference. I won’t say the swap will give either team a shot at the 2021 NBA title but I think both teams improve from the swap. I never mentioned Lou Williams but we all know he will provide a scoring punch for the Rockets off the bench and let’s face it he is just as disgruntled as Montrezl Harrell and Jamychal Green who bolted the moment they got the opportunity from the Clippers. Not that the Clippers are a sinking ship it’s just that they are no longer the same nucleus Doc Rivers coached that put a scare into the Durant-Warriors the 2019 NBA Playoffs. Paul George deserves better as well, the Clipper fan base has all but checked out on him in LA and as a Paul George fan I’d rather see him on the Rockets where I believe he could make some serious noise alongside John wall, give me your thoughts.