It was reported earlier today, as James Harden and the Houston Rockets prepare to take on the Washington Wizards, that Harden almost was dealt to the Wizards in the summer. Apparently the notion of signing Harden to a max deal not only concerned the Oklahoma City Thunder, but owner Ted Leonsis and the Wizards as well.
That trade didn’t happen and no one is clear on the exact details except for the parties involved but allow me to fantasize briefly. Harden, Nene Hilario, Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, and a healthy John Wall. Wow!
Now lets get to the steak and potatoes of the “purposed” trade. According to anonymous team sources, the deal would have been Harden for just drafted Bradley Beal and second year player, Chris Singleton. To me this deal would sound like a no-brainer. An unproven rookie and second year role player for Sixth Man of the Year. I tend to believe that some picks may have been involved, but since those have not been spoke of, lets talk about what has, the extension.
Houston had no problem inking Harden to the max extension he wanted as soon as the trade was made with the Thunder. Leonsis had reservations about giving Harden a max extension, because it would have pushed his team into the luxury tax. This is where Ernie Grunfeld’s decision to trade Rashard Lewis‘ expiring deal for the bloated contracts of Ariza and Okafor may have come back to haunt the team. I know for a fact it hurt the team from bidding on any amnestied players who would have provided the Wizards with the same, if not better, production for fractions of the cost.
So did the Wizards miss out on a young dynamic player this summer because of Grunfeld’s decision to move Lewis or are the facts of a potential deal being overblown? Either way, when Harden was being discussed this summer, Grunfeld should have done any and everything possible to make that deal go down. If I was owner, his job would have depended on it.