The Houston Rockets have been involved in a number of blockbuster trade deals throughout the history of the franchise. In 2012, they brought in James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he has turned out to be the face of the franchise for many years. More recently, the Rockets brought in Chris Paul in 2017 and then turned around and flipped CP3 for Russell Westbrook this past year.
While Houston has made a number of big trades, there have been other blockbusters involving the franchise that haven’t come to fruition. Below we have four of the craziest Rockets trade rumors that would have had a significant effect on the franchise.
Vetoed Chris Paul to the Lakers deal
Among all these trades, this was actually the one that had the biggest chance of coming to fruition. As a matter of fact, it was already a done deal until then-commissioner David Stern decided to veto the deal.
This blockbuster three-team deal centered around New Orleans Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul joining the Los Angeles Lakers. The Rockets were the third team involved, and they would have snagged Pau Gasol from the Lakers as part of this deal.
In exchange, the Rockets would have sent Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, and a couple of future draft picks. It was a steep price to pay for a 31-year-old Gasol, but at that point, Houston was desperate to have a cornerstone superstar on its side.
Hakeem Olajuwon demands to be traded
Many consider Hakeem Olajuwon to be the greatest player in Rockets franchise history. Not many know, however, that he actually almost parted ways with the team during his prime.
Olajuwon was suffering from a lingering hamstring issue that forced him to miss a handful of games. For some reason, the Rockets thought he was faking the injury, and they decided to suspend the future Hall of Famer for refusing to play.
This did not sit well with Olajuwon at all, so he publicly demanded for a trade at the end of the season. Here is a direct quote from Olajuwon himself from a 1992 Los Angeles Times article:
“I’m not coming back for them (management),” Olajuwon said. “It’s for my teammates and the fans, but I would not like to play for the Rockets next season. It’s so obvious after all that’s happened.
“Would you like to work for a management like that, that say all these things? It’s better for everybody to pack at the end of the season.”
The Rockets have to thank their lucky stars that Olajuwon decided to take a U-turn. They were somehow able to patch things up with their superstar, and a trade was never pursued. A couple of years later, the famed big man won the MVP award. He also led the Rockets to back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995.
James Harden for Klay Thompson
This foiled trade deal did not directly involve the Rockets, but it sure would have had a tremendous impact on the team for years to come.
Before the Rockets acquired Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, he actually almost joined the Golden State Warriors instead. According to reports, Thunder general manager Sam Presti called the Warriors first before they engaged in trade talks with the Rockets. OKC wanted Klay Thompson in exchange for Harden, and thankfully for Houston, that deal did not push through.
Ultimately, the Rockets struck gold in 2012. They sent Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two future first-round picks, and a future second-round pick to the Thunder, and it was well worth it.
The Biggest of Big 3s: Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan
Could you imagine a trio of Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and Michael Jordan? Well, this blockbuster deal actually almost happened.
The year was 1984, and the Portland Trail Blazers reportedly wanted to send their second overall pick in the draft AND a 23-year-old Clyde Drexler to Houston in exchange for then-Rockets star big man Ralph Sampson. The Rockets were already in possession of the first overall pick, which they used on Olajuwon. They then could have used the second overall pick from the Blazers to take Jordan. That would have formed quite a trio of Olajuwon, Drexler, and Jordan, all at the beginning of their careers.
We all know how Jordan won six titles in eight years with the Chicago Bulls, and it was Olajuwon (and Drexler, who eventually joined him in Houston in 1994) and the Rockets who won the other two during that eight-year span. How many titles would this trio have won together, though?