In the aftermath of a 135-134 overtime win over the Golden State Warriors in Oracle Arena, a game that saw James Harden go for his third 40-plus point triple-double of the season, the Houston Rockets were feeling themselves. Harden stared down Draymond Green after hitting the game-winning three over Green’s outstretched arms, then had words with him a few moments later. The Rockets, after a dismal 11-14 start to the season, now sit at 22-16 after a six-game winning streak, and their general manager is thinking big picture after downing the Warriors.
In an interview after the game with The Athletic, Daryl Morey said he already has one eye toward the trade deadline as the Rockets try to exercise their demons from what was a gut-wrenching Western Conference Finals loss to the Warriors last summer.
We’re definitely a buyer. …I think we’ve been trying to win the title for a while, and we had a couple years before we got James where we probably didn’t have as much of a chance to win, where we were probably a little more future focused.
But since James has been here we’ve been buyers at the deadline and hopefully something comes along that we think can help our chances to win the title. We’ve had a few years where we don’t, so we don’t force it, but we’re going to be looking for something to hopefully upgrade the team.
With Chris Paul, Eric Gordon and Nene all on the mend, Harden in the midst of a historic offensive season and the Warriors looking, well, mortal, Morey clearly feels the urgency of a both a shrinking championship window and maximizing Harden’s peak.
(Harden’s) doing stuff that no one in NBA history has done, or very few. You work in the league your whole life to work with a player as good as James, and it’s very humbling. We don’t take it for granted any day. Myself, the front office, (owner) Tilman Fertitta, we feel a big responsibility to make sure that while he’s in his peak years — which we feel will be for many years — that we’re maximizing every minute of that.
With the trade deadline a little over a month away, look for the Rockets to make a splash.