BREAKUPS ARE NEVER EASY

Here’s why a James Harden trade could be poison to the NBA, Rockets

It's not about the money this time. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Let's say the Houston Rockets cave to James Harden's demand and trade him to the Brooklyn Nets. That will be one hell of a Big Three – Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and The Beard – in New York City's most populous borough (yes, bigger than Manhattan).

Great for Brooklyn, sure. The Nets would be the overwhelming pick to win the NBA's Eastern Conference. Just like the Miami Heat won four consecutive Eastern Conference titles with their Big Three – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Like Golden State won three NBA titles with their Big Three – Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

Like the Los Angeles Lakers won everything this year with their Big Three – LeBron James, Anthony Davis and anybody else who happened to be on the floor.

Super teams are good for the city where they play. But a bad deal for everybody and everywhere else.

The NBA thrives on superstars and super teams. When TNT and ESPN put together their TV schedules, they're not thinking, "We've got to get more Sacramento games on this year."

The Rockets are in utter chaos, a new coach, new general manager and both its stars want out. The Rockets reportedly are OK starting the season with Harden and Westbrook aboard. It's never a good idea to keep someone in a relationship when they want to be with someone else. Eventually you'll find a "Dear Tilman" note on the kitchen table.

The NFL used to have a goal, on any given Sunday. That's not the NBA, more now than ever, with super teams forming in major markets, or a warm climate with lots of nightlife along South Beach.

There are 30 teams in the NBA, so let's turn back the clock 30 years and count forward. Over the past three decades, two-thirds of NBA teams have not won the NBA title.

That means there are adults, with jobs and families, who own homes and pay taxes … who have never experienced a championship parade in their hometown in their lifetime.

Let's count 'em up: Orlando, Indiana, New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Charlotte-New Orleans, Utah, Seattle-OKC, Minnesota, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Baltimore-Washington, Phoenix, Portland, Denver, Los Angeles (Clippers), Vancouver-Memphis and Sacramento.

The Vancouver Grizzlies were created in 1995 and moved to Memphis in 2001. The present-day Charlotte Hornets were created in 2004. Neither team has won an NBA title.

The NBA, as we know it, started play in 1946. Some of those cities, like Charlotte, Denver, Sacramento and Atlanta have never even made an NBA Finals.

Harden may never bring a title to Houston. But he is the team's most popular player. He makes the All-NBA team. He wins scoring titles. He gets the biggest cheers at Toyota Center when they announce the starting lineup. Most important, he sells tickets. The Rockets need Harden more than Harden needs the Rockets. The Beard reportedly turned down $50 million a year to stay. You don't need Dr. Phil to tell you that one-way relationships never work out.

If the Rockets trade Harden to Brooklyn, and Westbrook to anywhere they'll take the $130 million left on his contract, don't expect much in return. The Rockets probably will receive a couple of role players and draft picks. Fun fact (OK, maybe not fun): not a single player on the Rockets' current 18-man roster was drafted by Houston. Thanks, Daryl.

Without Harden and Westbrook's star power, the Rockets become just another team – the no-name "other guys" for Shaq, Kenny, Charles and Ernie to explain why they're going to lose. Especially Charles if the Rockets are playing.

How many Indiana Pacers can you name? Sacramento Kings? Orlando Magic?

Next year, Houston Rockets?

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Houston's offense had another strong day at the plate in Seattle against the Mariners on Wednesday. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After striking a deal with the Mariners before Tuesday's game, along with a reported deal with the Marlins on Wednesday before the finale, the Astros continued to try and bolster their bullpen with fresh arms while also focusing on this series against Seattle. Having won the night prior to even it up, it came down to the rubber game on Wednesday afternoon to decide the series.

Final Score: Astros 11, Mariners 4

Astros' Record: 63-40, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-5)

Losing Pitcher: Yusei Kikuchi (6-6)

Astros continue to score runs in Seattle

Just like in the earlier games in this series, the Astros had no problems offensively. They strung together four consecutive one-run innings, starting in the top of the second when they loaded the bases, then got an RBI groundout by Myles Straw to go up 1-0. In the top of the third, Yuli Gurriel drove one in on a two-out RBI double, bringing in Jose Altuve, who led the inning off with a double of his own. Chas McCormick led off with a single in the fourth, then later scored on an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz.

The fourth run in as many innings came in the top of the fifth, as Gurriel would notch his second RBI with a solo homer to start that inning, pushing the lead to 4-0. They didn't stop there, and neither did Gurriel, as he would get RBI number three on the day as part of a four-run top of the sixth, with RBI hits him, Altuve, Diaz, and Carlos Correa, doubling the lead to 8-0.

Odorizzi gets to the sixth before allowing two homers

The run support gave Jake Odorizzi plenty of leeway, which he didn't need until the bottom of the sixth. He held Seattle scoreless over the first five frames, allowing just four baserunners on a hit by pitch, a walk, and two singles, all peppered over that span and erased in each inning. Kyle Seager would get the Mariners on the board in the bottom of the sixth, blasting a one-out solo homer to cut the lead to seven runs at 8-1. After a single in the next at-bat, recently traded Abraham Toro made it four games in a row with a homer, this one a two-run shot to cut the lead to 8-3 and end Odorizzi's day. His final line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 95 P.

Houston wins the series

Houston brought in Brooks Raley to finish the sixth, issuing two walks but stranding them to keep it a five-run lead. Myles Straw helped push that back to six in the top of the seventh, reaching on a single to start the innings, then stealing both second and third to get in position for Diaz's third RBI of the day, a groundout to make it 9-3. Cristian Javier was the next reliever out for the Astros, but he would not make it through the bottom of the seventh, allowing a single and three walks, the third with the bases loaded to bring in a run.

Bryan Abreu was brought in to get out of the jam, getting a strikeout to end the seventh. Then, in the top of the eighth, Kyle Tucker would put two more runs on the board with a two-run homer making the lead seven runs at 11-4. Abreu remained in for the bottom of the eighth, erasing two one-out singles to get through the frame. Brandon Bielak took over in the bottom of the ninth to close things out, posting a 1-2-3 inning to wrap up the win and give Houston the series victory.

Up Next: Houston will travel down the coast to San Fransisco before getting a day off on Thursday. They'll pick up an exciting three-game series with the Giants on Friday, with the opener slated to start at 8:45 PM Central. Framber Valdez (6-2, 2.97 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, while San Fransisco's starter is TBD.

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