‘100% Do That Deal Again’ – Rockets’ GM Rafael Stone Has No Regrets over James Harden Trade

Published 03/30/2021, 7:23 AM EDT
Jan 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a basket during the first quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Toyota Center on January 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Carmen Mandato/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports


The Houston Rockets have fallen from grace this past season. Once the team that took on the Golden State Warriors like no other, the Rockets most recently went on a 20-game losing streak. It appears as though the James Harden trade has put them in a very weak position. But Rockets’ GM Rafael Stone has no regrets about making the move happen in the first place.

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Rockets GM stands firm on Harden deal

Houston Rockets general manager Rafael Stone recently spoke with ESPN. On the subject of the James Harden trade, Stone gave an interesting response. Despite the Rockets’ poor form, Stone said that he would do the deal again without hesitation. He noted that outsiders have the benefit of not knowing the finer details that he does, but he understands that the deal worked well for them.

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Mar 1, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) shoots in the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
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Stone said, “I would for sure, 100 percent, do that deal again. Again, you guys don’t have the advantages of knowing everything I know, but literally, no part of me regrets doing that deal. I have not second-guessed it for a moment.”

Rockets could have leveraged James Harden better

Stone added that the franchise isn’t trying to tank their season to get a solid draft pick. Next year’s NBA draft class has a lot of great prospects that a team can be built a team around. However, Stone noted that the transactions from the franchise are not in an effort to tank their season but to speed up their rebuilding process.

Stone added, “A lot of what I said about being in a position maybe to not have to be bad (to rebuild), there’s some other things that we’ve done, too, but it’s primarily that deal that’s allowed us to say, ‘Hey, we want to compete on a slightly quicker time frame.’ We’re not going to go down this path of intentionally trying to lose games for years on end.”

Feb 22, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; John Wall #1 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Coby White #0 of the Chicago Bulls during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Carmen Mandato/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
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Did the Rockets make the right decision with the James Harden trade? Rockets fans complain that they didn’t get enough in exchange for Harden.

Rockets fans were excited at the prospect of getting a young star like Caris LeVert, but the front office complicated that deal and made it a four-team trade. But now, the return from the Harden deal looks like one of the biggest mismatches in NBA trade history.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1313 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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