Culture change coming soon

Here's why the Rockets should trade James Harden sooner than later

Here's why the Rockets should trade James Harden sooner than later
How much time does Harden have left in Houston? Photo by Getty Images.
How commitment on defense is paying off for James Harden and the Rockets

This offseason has been a debacle for James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Rockets head coach Stephen Silas has already gone through trials and tribulations with both Russell Westbrook and Harden. Silas took the job because of the excitement Westbrook and Harden bring, and he thought he had their approval of becoming their head coach. But it didn't take long before Westbrook was traded to the Washington Wizards for John Wall, and Harden made it known that he wants out.

All the players seemed eager to get started and reported to individual workouts and training camp at Toyota Center, except for James. Harden was in Las Vegas having a good time with rapper Lil Baby and friends. On Sunday and Monday, during press conferences, Silas seemed frustrated after Harden told management he would report to camp on Sunday evening.

"There is no timetable, as far as I know, it is a setback. You want your best player to be here," as Silas said Sunday evening after practice. "He's not here, and he has a reason, but that's on him to tell whoever what the reason is."

As of Tuesday, Harden finally left the party atmosphere to report to training camp. Since Harden was seen without a mask inside of Drai's Nightclub, his COVID results must comeback negative six times. Although the testing procedures can be a slight inconvenience, Silas seemed optimistic and energetic about his appearance at training camp.

"Him [Harden] being here shows a level of commitment to what we have going on," as Silas said about Harden coming to camp.

Even though Harden returned to camp, the situation became stressful because of the trade request he asked for. Reports were saying that Harden wanted out when Silas was hired as the Rockets' head coach. The organization dealt with the same chaotic situation in November when Harden requested a trade the first time. Honestly, the Rockets should honor Harden's request, so no feuds occur with Silas or his teammates.

Although Harden requested a trade, his teammates will still feel comfortable when he makes an appearance in a Rockets uniform. Gerald Green, John Wall, and DeMarcus Cousins are hoping Harden can accept the energy of the Rockets' culture and make the right decision for himself.

"All we can control is what we control. The guys that are here, we're coming out working every single day", as Cousins told the media. "Hopefully, whenever it is he comes in and joins in, he matches the energy of the group."

Green wants the Rockets and Harden to co-exist, so they're able to win a championship this upcoming season. If not, he wants Harden and the Rockets to make the right decision so the team can succeed long-term.

So far Harden has added the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat to his preferred trade destinations, to go along with theBrooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.

There is no point in trading with the 76ers if they will not give the Rockets Ben Simmons in exchange for Harden. The Rockets already said Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving must be included if they want Harden in a Nets uniform. The Bucks would possibly have to give up Khris Middleton, Donte DiVencenzo, and first-round draft picks which could be between 25-30 overall in the draft. Meaning, a third team would likely have to be involved for the Rockets to make a deal happen with the Bucks. If the Rockets make a deal with the Heat, however, hopefully that trade package includes the talented Tyler Herro.

Herro erupted for 37 points against the Boston Celtics in the playoffs, which was in Orlando at the bubble. He would be exactly what the Rockets need because of his elite shooting, and he's only 20 years old. Herro made the All-Rookie team in the 2019-2020 season by shooting 39 percent from the perimeter. Even though Herro averaged 13.5 points per game as a rookie, he averaged 16 points per game and shot 37.5 percent from the perimeter in the playoffs.

Tyler Herro 37 Pts Full Game 4 Highlights | Celtics vs Heat | September 23, 2020 NBA

For now, it's a wait-and-see situation for Rockets fans. The season starts in two weeks, but the Rockets first preseason game is against the Chicago Bulls this Friday night. Hopefully, Harden and the Rockets come to an understanding or a trade happens before the regular season starts.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
It's not time to panic, yet. Composite Getty Image.

This is not a column for fanboys or sugarcoating. To this point in the season the Astros stink like rotten eggs. They stink like Angel Hernandez’s umpiring. They stink like Bill O'Brien's general manager skills. The Astros are a bad team right now. That’s notably different from being a bad team. Their 4-10 record is well-earned and it is definitely possible that the Astros’ run of high quality and annual playoff appearances crashes and burns this season. But it’s laughable to declare so after just 14 games of the 162 scheduled have been played.

Last June the Astros had a lousy window in which they went 3-10. In August they had a 4-8 funk. In September it was a 3-9 stretch of collapse. The 2022 World Series Champions had a 3-8 hiccup in April, and a 2-6 blotch overlapping July and August that included getting swept in a three-game series by the then and now awful Oakland A’s.

Now the Astros are back home (Oh No!) for six games, three vs. the Rangers then three with the Braves. The Rangers lead the American League West but are just 7-6, so despite their cellar-dwelling status, the Astros are just three and a half games out of first. A winning homestand is obviously the goal. No, really. 3-3 would be ok, even though that would just about clinch a losing record heading into May.

Mandatory aside: spectacular weather is the Friday night forecast. Stop being stubborn and lame, Astros. Open the roof! I don’t mean just for the postgame fireworks.

On the mend?

The Astros’ track record of downplaying pitching injuries that turned out to be major certainly causes angst as we await Framber Valdez’s return from a sore elbow. If Valdez ultimately winds up out for months, the Astros’ starting rotation is in deep trouble. Even more so if upon the approaching delayed start to his season, 41-year-old Justin Verlander pitches to his age in terms of results and/or durability. However, if Valdez is ok within a month and JV is solid, those two, and Cristian Javier can stabilize the rotation quite nicely.

The Astros started three guys in the last four games who belong in the minor leagues. It was a sad sign of the times that the Astros were reduced to calling up Blair Henley to make the start Monday in Arlington. Except for Rangers fans and Astros haters, it grew uncomfortable watching Henley give up four hits, walk three, record just one out, and wind up charged with seven earned runs. But it’s not Henley’s fault that he was thrust into a role for which he was utterly unqualified.

Last season at Double-A Corpus Christi, Henley’s earned run average was 5.06. Because of the crummy state of the Astros’ farm system, Henley failed up to Triple-A Sugar Land to start this season. After one not good start for the Space Cowboys, “Hey, go get out big leaguers Blair!” Henley turns 27 next month, he is not a prospect of any note. If he never again pitches in the majors Henley forever carries a 135.00 ERA.

But you know what? It was still a great day for the guy. Even if undeserved, Henley made “The Show.” For one day on the Astros’ 26-man roster, Henley made over four thousand dollars. To make him eligible for call up, the Astros first had to put Henley on their 40-man roster and sign him to a split contract. That means that until/unless the Astros release him, Henley’s AAA salary jumps from approximately $36,000 for the season to over 60K.

Lastly, while Henley’s ERA could remain 135.00 in perpetuity, at least he’s no Fred Bruckbauer. In 1961 Bruckbauer made his big league debut and bade his big league farewell in the same game. He faced four batters, giving up three earned runs on three hits and one walk. Career ERA: Infinity! Bruckbauer is the most recent of the more than a dozen pitchers to retire with the infinity ERA.

Spencer Arrighetti’s debut start went much better. For two innings, before it unraveled in a seven run Royals third. Arrighetti has good stuff, but not great stuff. Control has been an issue for him in the minor leagues. Without better command Arrighetti cannot be a plus starter in the majors.

Then there’s Hunter Brown. We could go decades without seeing another pitcher give up nine runs and 11 hits in two-thirds of an inning as Brown did Thursday. It had never happened in MLB history! To this point, Brown is an overhyped hope. ERA last July: 5.92, August: 6.23, September 1 on: 8.74. Three starts into 2024: 16.43.

Jose Abreu watch

It's still early enough in the season that even just a couple of big games can markedly improve a stat line but Jose Abreu continues to look washed up at the plate. Three hits in 37 at bats (.081 batting average), with the most recent hit a questionable official scoring decision. Manager Joe Espada has already dropped Abreu from fifth in the lineup to sixth, then seventh, then eighth. Two more slots down to go, Joe! Continuing to act like Jon Singleton could be a competent bat in the lineup is just silly though.

Catch the weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week now generally goes up after Sunday’s game (second part released Tuesday, sometimes a third part Wednesday) via YouTube: stone cold stros - YouTubewith the complete audio available via Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome