James Harden seemed to be a fantasy trade target for many Cavaliers fans back when he was a lightning scoring guard off the Oklahoma City Thunder bench. Now, he’s a two-time All-Star for the Houston Rockets. And today, upon the firing of Cavs GM Chris Grant, we learn that such a deal actually could have occurred.
Grantland’s Zach Lowe, one of the best writers in the NBA, had a great final post on Grant’s tenure in Cleveland. You should go read the entirety of the post because it’s one of the best out anywhere on the topic. In running through the oft-criticized asset accumulation, Lowe then shared this tidbit:
A segment of the front office pushed Grant hard to make a run at James Harden before last season, using a combination of picks and any Cavalier other than Irving. Grant resisted, and he has generally been known around the league as a difficult sort to deal with. Executives on other teams lament that Grant overvalues his own players to the point of paralysis, and that could have prevented the Cavs from throwing their hat in the Harden ring.
Instead, on Oct. 28, 2012, just days before the 2012-13 season, Oklahoma City traded Harden to Houston. The final deal: Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick for Harden and three relatively obscure scrubs.
The 24-year-old Harden has now emerged as one of the NBA’s elite scorers for the Rockets, who later added center Dwight Howard this past offseason. In Oklahoma City, the 2009 No. 3 overall pick controlled the team’s offense off the bench. In 120 games for Houston, he has averaged over 25 points per game.
As seen above, Harden once laid down a thunderous dunk on Cleveland’s J.J. Hickson on Dec. 12, 2010. Now, it seems, the thought of his name could haunt Cavaliers fans’ dreams for a long time to come.
Related James Harden articles at WFNY:
Could Dion Waiters fill the James Harden role? — Oct. 2012
The reality of the James Harden deal in Cleveland — Nov. 2012
Waiters’ move to reserve is long overdue, but in a good way — Jan. 2013
NBA Draft: On Dion Waiters, Ben McLemore and starting — June 2013
Photo: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki