Per ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets have agreed to a blockbuster trade involving superstar point guards John Wall and a protected first-round pick for Russell Westbrook. How does this deal impact former NBA MVP James Harden is another matter entirely?
Harden, who reportedly wants out of Houston, and wishes to be the third piece in a potential new ‘Big Three” in Brooklyn alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, has two years remaining on his current four year $171 million contract extension that he signed back in 2018. Harden hits free agency in 2023, and is currently due $42.7 million this coming season, not many teams will be willing to pay the high price that the Rockets could leverage out of them for him.
Now with his third different back court running mate in three years–following after the new departed Chris Paul and now Westbrook–could the former top overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft out of Kentucky in Wall prove to be the charm in H-Town?
With a new head coach and Stephen Silas and a more half-court system likely to be in place alongside the addition of center DeMarcus Cousins could make the Rockets both and intriguing and potentially competitive team in the uber top-heavy Western Conference.
Wall, 30, is coming off a lost season due to an Achilles injury, and while the five-time All-Star didn’t play in almost two years, when fully healthy, will probably be the fastest point guard that Harden has ever played with.
While Silas’ new system won’t resemble former head coach Mike D’Antoni’s run-and-gun system, a switch to a more conventional offense might benefit Harden. It’s no secret that the Rockets ‘small ball’ style–along with Harden–came up short in the postseason. If both Harden and the Rockets hope to finally advance to the NBA Finals, then both Houston and Harden will need to get some size and proverbially grow up.
Growing up in terms of size and run their offense thru the paint, as opposed to putting the scoring onus on Harden, which would also prevent opposing teams from sagging and focusing their defense on stopping just him.
A Wall-Harden duo–if everything falls their way–could prove to be a real problem this coming season, and finally give both the Rockets and Harden what both parties want in both a deep playoff run and possibly the franchise’s third NBA championship.