Rockets GM Rafael Stone reveals plans for $10.65 million trade exception created in James Harden deal
For the first time in almost nine years, James Harden is playing for a team other than the Houston Rockets now that he’s on the Brooklyn Nets. After a long saga, the Rockets finally pulled the trigger on a trade that wound up including two other teams.
Rockets general manager Rafael Stone remains optimistic about his team’s chances after the blockbuster trade and expressed excitement about what the team got back in the deal. Aside from getting two-time All Star Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, and Rodions Kurucs along with four future first-round picks and four pick swaps in the deal, Stone also mentioned the $10.65 million trade exception as an important part of the trade.
Regarding how the team plans to use that trade exception, Stone, who took over after longtime general manager Daryl Morey’s departure in the offseason, made it clear that the Rockets plan to be “aggressive” at the trade deadline, per Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic.
Stone’s statement indicates that the Rockets still expect to contend for the playoffs in the Western Conference despite losing the eight-time All Star and starting off the season slow. Houston currently has a 4-7 record and is coming off a 103-91 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Stone is banking on the addition of Oladipo to a core group featuring John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Christian Wood, Eric Gordon, and P.J. Tucker to get this team back on track, and then the GM will look to make an upgrade at the deadline for a playoff push.
It’s definitely going to be an uphill battle, though, given the rugged nature of the Western Conference. 11 teams in the West are at .500 or better, so the Rockets are going to have to get it together sooner rather than later, especially with the condensed schedule.