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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Carlos Correa had a big home run Saturday night. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With four wins in a row, including the first two of this series, Houston had a chance to keep their momentum going to lock up a series win on Saturday in this four-game set. Although Texas would make it interesting late, the Astros would hold them off to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 5

Astros' Record: 23-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia (1-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dane Dunning (2-3)

Action in the first

After getting trounced the night prior, the Rangers managed to grab early momentum with a run to start the scoring Saturday night against Luis Garcia. It came after a one-out triple set up a sac fly, giving Texas a 1-0 lead. Houston quickly took control back in their favor, though, putting up four in the bottom of the inning on a two-RBI single by Alex Bregman and a two-run homer by Carlos Correa, making it 4-1 Astros.

The scoreboard went quiet after that inning, with both teams slowing down at the plate. Garcia put together a decent night, allowing just the one run over five innings of work, erasing some runners throughout the night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 94 P.

Rangers tighten it up late

Bryan Abreu was the first reliever to enter for Houston, taking over for Garcia in the top of the sixth. He worked around a leadoff single, keeping it a three-run game, then returned for a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. Correa led off with a double in the bottom of the inning, setting up a two-run Kyle Tucker homer, extending his recent hot streak and the lead to 6-1.

Ryne Stanek took over on the mound for Houston in the top of the eighth but worked himself into trouble with a single and walk to set up a three-run homer by Joey Gallo to make it a two-run game at 6-4. He would manage just one out before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Brandon Bielak. Bielak would allow a run while getting the final two outs, making it 6-5.

Astros secure the series

After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Ryan Pressly would try to notch another save and close the door on the Rangers. He would get the job done, sitting the Rangers down in order, keeping Houston's winning streak intact.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game set will start at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Lance McCullers JR. (3-1, 3.10 ERA), fresh off of a recent gem, will look to continue his success for the Astros, while Kyle Gibson (3-0, 2.28) will try to stay perfect on the season for the Rangers.

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