The Charlotte Hornets are not getting James Harden. Let me reiterate, your 2020-21 Charlotte Hornets are not, nor were they ever in contention to, trade for James Harden. But, in the vein of 2020 where we make statements that are patently false, I.E. Covid-19 is a hoax; I won Georgia; Jeffrey Toobin was just adjusting his pants; why not explore the possibility a little bit.
What would it take for the Houston Rockets, inside the current NBA trade structure, to agree to a James Harden trade? The first element to look at is salary matching. James Harden is set to make over forty-one million dollars this season. That’s a big bag. The only Charlotte Hornet player who is close to that number is Gordon Hayward at $28,500,000, and he is ineligible to be traded at this time. Not to mention Jordan has spent years trying to sign him and might balk at trading him anyway immediately. So that would mean it would take a couple salaries to make it work.
Terry Rozier, Malik Monk, and Cody Zeller would do the trick salary-wise. At the risk of turning this article into the comments section, lets try to reason why the Rockets might accept these players. Cody Zeller is an expiring contract who is at least alive and breathing at the center position. Malik Monk is also at the tail end of his contract and, if the Monk truthers are to be believed, could be a rebuilding piece going forward. Scary Terry is the only true NBA starter of the bunch, but with something like forty million left on that contract he might be good trade bait in his own right.
A more complicated salary match, but one that would be way more attractive to the Houston Rockets is as follows: Cody Zeller, Terry Rozier, PJ Washington, and Devonte Graham. I am not a cap guru, and there would have to be players cut or even a third team involved for this to happen. But these players have some value. Terry and Cody, I addressed in the previous paragraph. PJ and Devonte represent the shinning youth movement of last year. They are the core of what the Hornets could become. They are both on cheap contracts at least for the next two years and would be a great start for a rebuild in Houston. That could be a very attractive package… but wait! There’s more.
Again, The Houston Rockets are not trading Harden to the Charlotte Hornets. But if they were to find the right player package it would have to also include a bevy of future picks. For instance, the New Orleans Pelicans got 3 first round picks and two pick swaps for Jrue Holiday. OKC traded Paul George for FIVE first round draft picks. So, for the third, maybe fourth, best player in the league, it will take ALL OF THE PICKS to pry Harden from Houston.
So in this yahoo fantasy land reality we’ve created what would the Charlotte Hornets trade package look like for James Harden: Cody Zeller, Terry Rozier, PJ Washington, Devonte Graham, 2021 first round draft pick, 2022 pick swap, 2023 1st round draft pick, 2024 pick swap, 2027 1st round pick, 2026 pick swap. So that’s all our young talent, minus Lemelo Ball, plus SIX possible first round picks. Who says no?
Everyone, that’s who.