Another NBA offseason, another Rockets lottery pick. Only this time, they lost out on one of three of the best prospects. Ending up with the fourth pick wasn't ideal. That won't stop the process. It may slow it down, but the train keeps moving. The only thing that changes is the track it's on.
This team is still working towards being a playoff contender. Rumors of a potential reunion with James Harden have been running rampant. From people in the know, it's being reported that Tilman Fertitta is behind the potential reunion. He must see it as a business move (boosting ticket and merch sales), as well as a basketball move. The latter comes in as the next phase is to make the playoffs. Harden can certainly provide all of the above, but at what cost? Resident Mr. Rocket Jalen Green sees it from both sides:
When Green agreed with Paul George's take that Harden's return could stunt his growth, it spoke volumes. Lots of fans are eager to see Harden come back to Houston. They want the 50-win seasons and playoff appearances. They want the Harden that was here before. Wanting Harden back is a normal thing. He's a great player and would definitely add value to this team. But at what cost? Green also sees the benefit of adding Harden. He knows this is a guy who's been “The Man” and can help him understand what that takes. Let's look a little deeper.
I feel like Green agreeing that Harden could stunt his growth is noteworthy. Not enough to the point where the organization needs to start consulting him on moves, but they need to take heed. Green hasn't earned that level of superstar status yet, but I think he's on his way. If this is a guy they want to build around, taking his thoughts and feelings into consideration comes with the territory. New head coach Ime Udoka has said he wants to take advantage of the young guys' skills as best they can. How does that jibe with adding a ball dominant guy who wants to be the man again on a playoff-ready/title contending team?
Being that Harden has been in the league 14 years now. He's been an MVP and accomplished a lot. He can help Green and others with the rigors of being a pro. Him showing them how to create space, get your own shot, set up your teammates, and other offensive skills. Imagine if Green developed the Harden stepback? Filthy! However, those are skills they can learn from others. They can also learn the rules of the road from others as well. Udoka is a former player himself. Plus, there are tons of former Rockets who can come in and mentor the roster.
I think Green was playing politics here. He may not have a preference one way or the other on Harden's potential return. He wants to keep all options open. If Harden comes, it'll be cool because it's a guy he's probably looked up to. The comment about him thinking it could hurt his growth can be settled with some good conversations between all involved. If Harden doesn't come back, it's a non issue. Showing some media savvy at a young age is promising. He was able to navigate a potential landmine by keeping all options open. Not many young guys can do that. This shows me Green is ready for a prominent role as the face of the organization. If he's showing he's ready, it's time to take the training wheels off.
Udoka has a plan for how he wants to use the guys already here. It's up to the front office to buy him the right groceries, so he can cook a proper meal. Too many wrong and/or bad ingredients could mess it up. Harden is like garlic. It goes well when used properly, but can overpower the rest of the meal if not. I love garlic. I use it fresh, minced, paste, and butter. However, I'm always aware of how much I use and what forms work best with which meals. Choose wisely, but most of all, pay attention to whom you're cooking for and what you're cooking with.