Rockets make the best out of a bad situation by trading Harden

It's time for the Rockets to rebuild. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta released an official statement regarding James Harden being traded to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a complicated four-team deal.

“On behalf of the entire Rockets organization and the City of Houston. I'd like to thank James Harden for an amazing eight-plus seasons in a Rockets uniform. James has provided us with so many great memories as we've watched him grow from Sixth Man of the Year to a perennial All-Star and MVP. My family and I also want to thank James for his many off the court contributions, including charitable donations and multiple annual community events. We wish James the best of luck and will always be grateful for the memories." Fertitta said.

In a post-game press conference earlier this week, Harden was brutally honest. He said he didn't believe that this Rockets' roster was talented enough to bring an NBA title to Houston. It's tough to argue that after seeing the Rockets' pair of blow-out losses to Western Conference rival Los Angeles Lakers. Harden isn't getting any younger, and the Brooklyn Nets situation presents him a perfect opportunity for a championship. Fifteen games into the season, Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets realize that Kyrie Irving is an unreliable contributor, and bringing in Harden to take over as the No. 2 star was the best possible trade option.

As for the Rockets

The Houston Rockets were the engine that drove the multi-team trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn. In return the Rockets received Caris Levert, Rodions Kurucs, three unprotected first round picks (2022, 2024, and 2026), and the right to exchange first round picks with the Nets in 2021, 2023, 2025, and 2027.

The Rockets also acquired Danté Exum and Milwaukee's first-round pick in 2022 from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone executed his first major trade in flawless fashion. Although Rockets fans are trashing Harden on his way out, this was the best deal that the Rockets could have received in exchange for the disgruntled Beard.

It is tough to understand why anyone would have a sour taste in their mouth about Harden leaving. It is clear that Harden did not mean to bad mouth the Rockets.

“For me, knowing him, I don't think he meant it as far as to really disrespect us. I think he just wanted a different situation. He's shown that and he also said it. He wanted his way out. And he got it," Rockets guard Eric Gordon said at the Rockets Thursday morning shoot around.

This trade was a win for Rafael Stone, and he now has the blueprint to build a winning franchise for the coming decade. Over the past nine seasons, the Houston Rockets have followed through on every acquisition that Harden requested (Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook). Harden has played at an All-Star level each year in Houston, winning three scoring titles along the way. Harden solidified himself as one of the top scorers in NBA history. If it weren't for a CP3 hamstring injury and an all-time Golden State Warriors super team, Harden would've brought home the Rockets third championship title.

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Yuli Gurriel had a monster night at the plate Friday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Although they lost the series 2-1, the Astros ended their road trip with a nice win over the Yankees to head home on a positive note. On Friday, they welcomed in the Toronto Blue Jays and former teammate George Springer, currently on the IL, to start a three-game series and long homestand. They had an excellent night at the plate, along with a strong start from Jose Urquidy, cruising past the Blue Jays to take the opener.

Final Score: Astros 10, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 17-15, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (3-2)

Losing Pitcher: Ross Stripling (0-2)

Jays strike first, then Houston responds and never looks back

It first appeared that Urquidy may be in for a long night, giving up two solo home runs early in Friday's game, one to Bo Bichette in the top of the first with one out to put Toronto up 1-0, then another to Danny Jansen in the top of the third. However, Urquidy would lock-in, and his offense would back him up strongly.

Houston ended up sending nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the second, getting two runs on a homer by Carlos Correa, then later loading the bases to set up an RBI walk by Alex Bregman. In the bottom of the fifth, with a one-run lead at 3-2, Yuli Gurriel expanded the lead to three runs on a two-run shot.

Gurriel went on to have a fantastic night, going 4-for-4 at the plate with 4 RBI. His third of those came in the bottom of the seventh, extending the lead again with an RBI single to make it 6-2. Kyle Tucker made it a five-run game that same inning with an RBI double, then more insurance came in the bottom of the eighth. They reached double-digits that inning, with Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel, his fourth of the night, all getting an RBI to make it 10-2.

Urquidy finishes seven, then Emanuel finishes it off

Those gave Urquidy plenty of support, though he would bounce back after the two early homers and have a nice night on the mound. He allowed just two other hits, working around both, en route to a seven-inning two-run performance to earn him the win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 84 P.

He likely could have gone longer, but Dusty Baker turned the ball over to Kent Emanuel to wrap things up with the significant lead. He did so, despite allowing a two-run home run to former-Astro Teoscor Hernandez in the top of the ninth to make the score 10-4. The win kept the Astros above .500 and two games back of the A's, who sit atop the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be a 6:10 PM start Saturday night. The pitching matchup will be Steven Matz (4-2, 4.78 ERA) for Toronto and the electric Cristian Javier (3-0, 1.75 ERA) for Houston.

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