The Rockets Can't Just Give In to James Harden

James Harden
James Harden / Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets should not trade James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets. Assuming that is actually what Harden wants, the Rockets cannot, for the good of their franchise, give him exactly what he wants... unless they get something really good for him.

The NBA is a crazy place. There are examples showing that things can work out for everyone eventually. When Paul George wanted a trade to Los Angeles, the Pacers held out until they got what they felt was a good deal to send him to Oklahoma City in exchange for two future All-Stars. OKC was even rewarded for their risk when George re-signed the next summer. Of course, George then demanded a trade to the Clippers. Amazingly, OKC was able to get an even bigger return haul in return for George.

So maybe there is something to acquiescing to player's wishes if the other team has their backs against the wall. The Nets probably don't right now which means the Rockets will end up with Spencer Dinwiddie and some middling draft picks. Dinwiddie is a very good player and I'm not just saying that because he's extremely online and might read this. However, the Rockets won't be title contenders with Dinwiddie instead of James Harden.

So what's the worst that can happen if the Rockets make James Harden play out the deal he signed? Harden already leads the league in field goal attempts, so it's not like he's going to become some uncontrollable gunner. Is he going to stop shooting? He's an excellent passer and can be a passable defender. Is he really going to throw away his legacy?

The Rockets could look to how the Los Angeles Lakers handled things when Kobe Bryant decided he needed to be traded. Things got so bad Bryant said he would rather play on Pluto. The Lakers held firm, kept Kobe and ended up winning two more championships.

What some people might have forgotten about that story is that Bryant's public displeasure apparently lasted just a few hours. He told Stephen A. Smith he wanted a trade. Then Phil Jackson talked to him and Bryant was back on the radio with Dan Patrick that day saying he wanted to retire a Laker.

So whatever the Rockets decide to do, it could work out. Or not. They could trade Harden and have all their picks flop while Harden flourishes wherever he goes. They could also hold onto him and continue to flame out in the playoffs. Who's to say what's good enough if you're never going to accomplish the ultimate goal?

I guess the point of all this is that the Rockets should hold onto Harden until something worthwhile comes along. It's tough for teams that aren't on the list of destinations for guys in the player empowerment era. Sometimes they need to take some of the power back from the player.