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Counterpoint: how holding on to James Harden might pay off for Rockets

Good things come to those that wait. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

I'm sure by now most of you are aware of the saga surrounding the Rockets and their enigmatic star James Harden. If you aren't, here's a quick rundown: The Rockets failed to re-sign the coach (Mike D'Antoni) who allowed Harden to become a ball-hogging MVP candidate; they parted ways with the general manager (Darryl Morey) who allowed Harden to run the franchise; when they didn't hire the coach he wanted, he decided to demand a trade and list several contenders in the Eastern Conference who he'd like to play for.

Everyone seems to have an opinion as to what the Rockets should do with Harden. Some say trade him and get what you can, some say keep him, others are so done with the whole thing they've become indifferent. I fall in the middle because I want them to keep him, but trade him later. One of my colleague's here at SportsMap, Zach Allen, wrote that he feels they should trade Harden ASAP. I disagree, and here's why:

Harden has no leverage

He's under contract this year and two more after that, although the 2022-2023 season has a player option he likely wouldn't exercise. If he decides to sit out games and practices, he can be fined. This would only make things more contentious with the Rockets and further damage his already off-putting reputation around the league. When Anthony Davis did this when he wanted out of New Orleans, he had a rep for being a good guy. People took it as he wanted out of a bad situation and wanted to find himself in a winning organization. If Harden were to do the same, which seems like he's already doing, it will make him seem more malcontent and diva-ish than he's already perceived to be.

With the offseason additions the Rockets have made, they have some pieces in place to be a playoff team. How far up the ladder can they climb in the uber competitive West? I'd say their ceiling is 3rd seed and their floor is either the 8thseed or just missing out on the playoffs. That said, Harden may start to play with and buy into the system new coach Stephen Silas has going. If he sees the potential in this roster to win, he stays. If not, he could come in and play at his typical high level, elevating his value, then allowing the Rockets to trade him to the highest bidder. The only thing would be selling everyone on the fact that Harden is here to stay for the long haul. The media will be asking those questions often of everyone in the organization. Everyone would have to be on the same page as far as answers are concerned.

While I highly doubt Harden is going to stick around Houston much longer, I'd much rather see the organization take their time in finding the best deal for them moving forward as opposed to bending over for the first offer they get. Trading him ASAP doesn't work because his value wasn't high to begin with given his style of play and dropped with his recent actions and demands. Wait it out. Create the illusion he's staying. Drum up interest and get the highest price you can for him. And remember, Harden doesn't have the leverage he thinks he does. Stay woke.

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TEXANS TRAINING CAMP WATCH

11 Texans training camp observations from August 7th

Houston Texans insider dishes on why Derek Stingley Jr was the right pick

The Houston Texans had a “vanilla” day of light work. Here are 11observations from the workout.

1. It was a light day for the Texans. Some would say sluggish, I wouldn’t agree with that. Did it look like a day off was in order? Yes. Did anyone make mental mistakes because of their energy level? Not that I could see. With it being a lighter day, it might be worthwhile to focus on some of the depth on the roster.

2. Isaac Yiadom (pronounced YEAH-dum) has had some moments in training camp. With rookie Derek Stingley having a light day, Yiadom played opposite Steven Nelson. Yiadom has had a few pass breakups and seems to be physical in coverage. He has a little speed to him, or he’s shown the ability to stick with wideouts. He is a top preseason game target to watch.

3. Phillip Dorset had a very nice back-of-the-end zone catch. It might have, likely even, been a sack for the defense in a live rep or team rep, but Davis Mills ripped the ball out as the whistle was starting to sound. Dorset with two feet in the back after juking a defender. He is squarely behind other wideouts having missed time but being a veteran should catch up quickly.

4. Wideout Connor Wedington had a few nice plays on Sunday. He has an uphill battle to make the roster, but Davis Mills’ former teammate might squeeze his way into the conversation. There are opportunities for him with a few other wideouts banged up.

5. Rookie tight end Tegan Quitoriano bodied his way for a touchdown. The rookie hasn’t done much in camp, but his size is clearly an advantage. Game reps and more padded practice will be important for him this preseason.

6. Chris Moore is a veteran taking yet another swing at making this team. If the Texans played tomorrow, I would have him on the roster. Probably even starting at slot wideout. He had a very nice leaping grab today.

7. Versatility for a couple of backup offensive linemen may lead to them making the team. Well, it certainly won’t hurt their case. Justin McCray has played all three interior offensive line spots. The veteran could start if needed, but I have to imagine he is a key backup inside. Scott Quessenberry (yes related to former Texans lineman David and current fullback Paul) played guard on Sunday. He is a factor to be Justin Britt’s backup at center.

8. Charlie Heck was not a pick I was in love with when Bill O’Brien selected him a couple of seasons ago. Heck has grown a lot in his game and physically and is surely the backup tackle for this team. He can play left and right tackle.

9. Tae Davis plays linebacker and wears 19. It is the strangest thing to see a linebacker in that number. It has not been strange to see Davis make a play here or there in practice. The linebacker room is loaded but Davis is making the most of his chances.

10. Ka’imi Fairbairn HAMMERED a ball right down the uprights after Davis Mills had led the team into field goal range on a last-minute drill. Mills easily moved the team down the field without the normal group of linemen or weapons. Good finish to practice.

11. Jonathan Greenard did some pushups after he couldn’t replicate history. Greenard almost had his second interception of Davis Mills, but the ball fell incomplete. Greenard has been a force in training camp.

Bonus Quote of the Day: “I was a fat guy last year” said Pharaoh Brown as he talked about his leaner and quicker frame compared to last year.

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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