ROCKET SCIENCE

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

Rockets James Harden
It's time for the Rockets to rebuild. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Here's what the Rockets must consider before pulling the trigger on a James Harden trade

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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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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