It seems like the Houston Rockets' situation gets more tumultuous with each day that passes, and Monday certainly was no different. It remains to be seen when things will completely blow up, but that increasingly looks like a certain outcome.
The owner reportedly wants to cut payroll. The previous coach and GM had no interest in returning. Multiple key contributors were traded away. And the new coach and GM are inheriting a situation far different than what they likely expected upon taking the job.
And it's all James Harden's fault.
First he wanted to play with Chris Paul. That eventually went sour, and resulted in Houston trading a handful of valuable draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder to acquire Russell Westbrook. That pairing lasted a whole one season before their relationship reportedly went sideways and compelled the Rockets to trade Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for John Wall.
And that apparently wasn't enough to placate Harden.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelbourne reported Monday, citing sources, that Harden is still pushing to be traded, despite the Rockets adding Wall.
"After making his Rockets preseason debut this past weekend," Wojnarowski and Shelbourne wrote, "Wall expressed hope that Harden might become excited about playing with him in a backcourt -- a prospect that Harden is rejecting as he rejoined the team Monday in practice, sources said."
The Rockets are in a terrible spot, with an extremely expensive star player who doesn't want to be there, but basically no negotiating leverage to speak of. They're simply not going to get fair value for Harden. And he's not the only one.
P.J. Tucker is a very good player. He has been essential to the Rockets' recent success, but he is unhappy with his contract situation, and it doesn't seem like a good bet that he'll be around long-term. Tucker is entering the final year of his contract, and if the Rockets do blow everything up, it wouldn't make much sense for them to keep him around.
When asked about his contract situation Monday, Tucker told reporters, "I want to be where I'm wanted."
In a better-leveraged situation, the Rockets likely could get good value for Tucker on the trade market. But with so much blood in the water in Houston, the sharks surely are circling, and the Rockets are unlikely to be overly joyed with the offers they'll receive for him.
And that plays right into the Warriors' hands.
The Warriors aren't going to offer a king's ransom for Tucker, nor should they. But they absolutely should offer their $9.3 million disabled player exception to Houston for him, which might turn out to be the kind of offer the Rockets ultimately deem acceptable. Golden State could throw in a future draft pick -- with protections -- to further entice Houston. That way, the Rockets would lower payroll and acquire future assets in one fell swoop.
Is that fair value for Tucker? No, probably not. But beggars can't be choosers, and the Rockets currently must be categorized as the former. It's certainly possible Houston will get better offers for him, in which case the Warriors might be out of luck. But with the Rockets' situation looking like it will only get worse, there is a potential opportunity for Golden State to come away with a major steal.