Here’s a scenario which many of you have brought up: what happens if Lebron signing is contingent upon trading Harden to New York for Anthony. Would the Rockets do it? As you all may know by now, the latest (old) news from the rumor mill is that James and Anthony desire to be teammates, but only a few teams have sufficient space under the cap* to make it happen, the Rockets not being one of them. But the rebuilding Knicks, no doubt, if offered the 24-year-old Harden would jump at the opportunity to claim something significant from the loss of Anthony. Would Houston do it?
*The Lakers are one of those teams as reportedly, they have been exploring deals to unload the $9million salary of Steve Nash by attaching their #7 pick, hoping to pitch the possibility of a James-Bryant-Anthony triumvirate, nevermind the fact that a James title in L.A. with Bryant in tow would do nothing towards achieving the former’s intended goal of closing the gap in rings between the two players. Unless Robert Sacre and Jordan Hill got creative with the HGH, I don’t even think that team would get out of the 1st round in the brutal Western Conference.
In a vacuum, the 24-year-old Harden is preferable to Anthony. But a contingency clause of SIGNING LEBRON FREAKING JAMES is not a vacuum. If x action gets you Lebron, you do it, no ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, or ‘buts’ about it.
Funny thing #1: from a basketball utilitarian standpoint, this is a no-brainer. If the phrase ‘no-brainer’ had an example in the dictionary, this scenario would be written in that spot (right next to “trading Klay Thompson for Kevin Love.”). But why would Houston not do it? Why are we so hesitant to discuss it? For the same reason we skirted around the temptation of trading Chandler Parsons for Rajon Rondo. It’s kind of a backstabbing move** and ultimately, it just looks really bad to the rest of the league. But would Daryl Morey really care? Landing Lebron James would represent the biggest coup possible on this platform. You can’t top it. It’s like being offered $6billion for an app you created to help people text their nudes more privately. You cash out, you walk away, and write a book about it later or something. So if this happened, why would Daryl Morey even care about the next domino or the potential fallout from future free agents. This would be the pinnacle.
Funny thing #2**: would it be backstabbing? I don’t know how tied James Harden is to this organization. Not to read too much into things, but he wasn’t exactly going out of his way to recruit Dwight Howard, nor did he seem overly thrilled about the acquisition. Was he even at the press conference? Don’t get me wrong. In combination with yesterday’s post, you probably think I’m throwing Harden under the bus. That’s not what this is about. Offensively, I still stand by my stance that he’s one of the most brilliant players in our league. But he has some warts, even in the leadership category, that are hard to ignore.
Would this ever happen? Would Lebron James ever pull such a conniving maneuver such as this, seeing a team with the ability to pair him and his friend Anthony, with an existing dominant rim protector, and ultimately orchestrating a sacrificial ceremony? Surely he couldn’t, right? Demanding a team trade its resident superstar for your friend as the condition of your signing would be as cruel as airing a nationally televised special to break the hearts of an entire city over your decision to leave them. No one could ever do that, right?
***The best thing about the Decision, and everything surrounding it, is that it actually worked! They actually won two titles! Usually, scenarios like that never pan and after so much initial ridicule, we just forget.