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Houston, Daryl Morey got a star in Harden. It’s a start.

Oct 28, 2012, 12:52 PM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder James Harden durin Getty Images

For the past year or more, Daryl Morey has been on a quest to get the Rockets an elite player to build around. He went hard after Dwight Howard even with Howard’s people saying he wouldn’t re-sign there. He knows you need an elite player to win in this league.

He’s now got James Harden. The Rockets made a huge move to get the All-Star and Sixth Man of the Year from Oklahoma City. You can bet a max contract extension offer of five years is coming. Of course, the question is will Harden sign it (most guys do their first contract after their rookie deal).

Is Harden the guy the Rockets can build around?

Morey told it is.

“We think James is a guy we can build our team around,” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said on Comcast SportsNet Saturday night. …

“Yeah, we’re very excited,” Morey said. “He’s an All-Star caliber player we’ve been looking to add to the team. Obviously, on the recent Dream Team, youngest player on that team.

“We’re excited. This is an elite offensive player who is solid in all other areas of the game as well.”

For Houston, this is a first big step. They are on the road to relevancy. But this move alone does not have them in the playoffs this year in the West, they still have a long way to go. A lot of pieces to fit in. And that starts with the two stars they already have.

Harden and also acquired Jeremy Lin are both guys who thrive running the pick and roll, so expect to see a lot of that in Houston. That and the team running and getting in the open floor. Because of that Morey thinks his two stars will mesh well.

“They complement each other very well,” Morey said on Comcast SportsNet Houston. “You know, James is a guy who is an elite shooter. Jeremy can break people down, find shooters. James is also great in the pick-and-roll. Both are good in transition, which is how we want to play this year.”

I’m not as sold, at least not yet anyway. I’m not sold on them as a defensive unit in the back court. On the other end of the floor, I think there at the least will be an adjustment period for the two to get used to each other.

My other question is who will be the good pick-and-roll big man for Houston, or more likely do they still need to go get one. Omer Asik was pretty average in limited time in that role in Chicago (just 28 times he got a shot as the roll man and he shot 50 percent according to Synergy). Can just acquired Cole Aldrich be that guy? What about European rookie Donatas Motiejunas?

Morey has to put a lot of pieces still together for the Rockets. They are not in the playoffs.

But to win in the NBA you need stars, you need talent. The Rockets just acquired a lot of talent in the form of Harden. It’s a start.

  1. readysethike - Oct 28, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    okc got a steal out of this trade…two first round picks…and next years draft will be deep

    • danielcp0303 - Oct 28, 2012 at 1:29 PM

      One of those picks is top 20 protected and the other is the Raptors lottery pick…who knows when the Thunder will see those picks. By the way, the draft next year looks awful

  2. claymatthewshairplugs - Oct 28, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Please stop talking about this trade like Houston got the second coming of Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan. Harden is good, but PBT is acting like Harden is a franchise player. He’s a good player no doubt, but is he a franchise changer? I have my doubts. Let’s be honest here, Harden looked really good in OKC because he was playing with two superstars. Now that he is the star and will be dealing with carrying the load and being covered by the other teams best defender lets see how he does before we crown him as a franchise player. I honestly think OKC made out with a good deal on this. They get Martin who’s just as good a scorer as Harden, not the playmaker he is but OKC wasn’t going to get someone like that in return, two draft picks and the sleeper that I think will turn out to be very good in Jeremy Lamb. Even trade IMO, just please stop crowning Harden a franchise player.

    • scalfor3 - Oct 28, 2012 at 9:49 PM

      There was a young hot shot who quickly became an all star as a microwave-type bench scorer about 15 years ago. His name was Kobe Bryant.

      Not saying Harden is going to turn into the next Kobe, but it’s pretty premature to say he looked good because of his supporting cast in OKC. He excelled in his role with OKC and has a chance to prove that wrong now. We’ll see, but the guy has the talent to do so.

    • passerby23 - Oct 29, 2012 at 1:02 AM

      I tend to agree. Good player? Yes. Guy you can build around? I’m not sold. I think he thrived in that complementary role as second or third option, but will find it difficult when entire defensive schemes are built around stopping him. Asik is a serviceable player with no offensive game to speak of. The Rockets have no post presence and really need to acquire one or two more stars to be in the playoff race. I like the move to shake things up in Houston, but I don’t think he’s THE guy to take them to the promised land.

      As for OKC, I think the trade looks beautiful. They couldn’t ask for more in their future, while Lamb should help them this year, and Martin will fill a nice void for them. I think the loss of Harden is a bit exaggerated.

    • eventhorizon04 - Oct 29, 2012 at 3:15 AM

      He’s not a franchise player today, but he’s only 23 years old.

      Harden in 4 years COULD be a franchise player, and there’s no reason to believe an efficient scorer and solid defender like Harden has no chance of developing further.

  3. timb12 - Oct 28, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    This is right up Morey lane. Building around a bunch of 2nd options. I don’t think Harden can be “the guy”

  4. money2long - Oct 28, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    houston just became a team to watch. and reports are that rookie terrence jones is actually playing pretty well at the moment. with new defensive center asik, and a decent backcourt (if lin pans out), the rockets can be a somewhat watchable team. patrick patterson can put up some respectable scoring on some nights, but they are still missing one big piece to become truly worthy of even becoming a threat in the playoffs. both harden and lin possess playmaking ability and houston needs to take advantage of that by dealing for an inside threat. the rockets should make it a point to pry either paul milsap or al jefferson from utah’s surplus of bigs and give harden and lin a more consistent, all star caliber offensive post presence and then they can really take off.

    • scalfor3 - Oct 28, 2012 at 9:51 PM

      The ball movement is going to be great in Houston. Lin, Harden and Royce White running the floor together will be fun to watch.

  5. isujames - Oct 28, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Harden is a better than average player, I wouldn’t tag him as a star yet.

  6. misterdreamer119 - Oct 28, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    Hes not a superstar, not even as good as Manu.

  7. dwirk - Oct 28, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Am I the only person that doesn’t think harden is a guy you can run the offense through? Maybe I’m blind

  8. 00maltliquor - Oct 29, 2012 at 2:08 AM

    *sigh* Kurt…Kurt…Kurt. Harden has never made an All-Star team, yet. How is he an “All-Star and 6th man”. 6th man yes, that happened. All-Star, no, not yet at least.

    Grammatical errors I can live with, factual errors burn me. Think about all the casual fans that occasionally visit this site…can you imagine how many of them have got burned over the years coming on this site to brush up on their knowlege before they go to a sports bar or barber shop and recite what they’ve heard on here? lol!

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