James Harden and the Houston Rockets were the biggest surprises this season, claiming the 3rd best record in the NBA after the disaster they had in 2015-16.
After Mike D'Antoni moved James Harden from the shooting guard to the point guard position, they created a good hierarchy on the court, so players around James Harden were always there to help him. Patrick Beverly, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and Lou Williams were a great help, but they weren't enough in the NBA Playoffs.
The San Antonio Spurs beat them 4-2, and once again James Harden finished a season without playing in the NBA Finals after the loss in OKC against the Miami Heat and LeBron James 5 years ago.
James Harden will turn 28 years old this offseason and 29 years old next season, so if the Houston Rockets don't change their roster, they can't really compete against the Warriors and Spurs. To be completely honest, Stephen Curry is 29 and Kevin Durant is 28, so James Harden will never beat them alone and he will probably finish his career without an NBA Championship.
"The Houston Rockets have emerged as increasingly serious threats in the chase for soon-to-be free agent Chris Paul, according to league sources.
The Rockets still have work to do in terms of clearing sufficient salary-cap space to make a representative offer for Paul, but sources said that Houston star James Harden has been advocating hard in favor of the Paul pursuit and has made his interest in teaming with the LA Clippers' All-Star known directly to the point guard."
As ESPN reported last week, if the Houston Rockets want to sign one of the best point guards in the league, they need to create space in the salary cap. The fastest way is to trade Ryan Anderson ($19.6 million) and Lou Williams ($7.0 million).
However, this is not the end for the Houston Rockets' plan. The second part is a little bit of a gamble, because, per ESPN, they want to sign Paul George, even if they know he will probably become a free agent in the summer of 2018.
"Houston also remains at the heart of the trade hunt to acquire Paul George from the Indiana Pacers, despite the fact that the All-Star is only under contract through next season and is known to be angling to sign with his hometown Los Angeles Lakers in July 2018."
It will be very tough to find good assets for Paul George, but Houston will probably have to trade one of the best defenders in the league - Patrick Beverly, along with Trevor Ariza and future picks. Although this offer is not good enough for George, the Rockets have to find a way to send better players to the Indiana Pacers.
General Manager Daryl Morey knows that the only way to beat the Golden State Warriors is to create a new super team. James Harden with Chris Paul and Paul George (even for 1 year), is a legit team, and if they can keep Eric Gordon and add few veterans, maybe they can become the next big force in the Western Conference.
They need to risk it, and if Chris Paul signs with the Rockets, maybe Paul George will be an inch closer to joining Houston.
After 5 years, and playing with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, maybe James Harden wants to try with two more superstars. Why not? If the Houston Rockets don't convince them, someone else will.