Less than two months ago, James Harden won the 2017-2018 NBA MVP Award which proved he was not only the best player on the Houston Rockets but in the entire league. He has become one of the top stars of this generation and is one of the key reasons that the Rockets are going to be contenders for the championship for years. Now, news has come about that his arrival in Houston may have never happened as the Oklahoma City Thunder tried to trade him to Toronto back in 2012.
Making things even more difficult to believe is that the Raptors turned down the trade.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard and Bill Simmons, by way of Bleacher Report, have both said that inside sources believe Harden almost landed in Canada back in 2012. Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti was shopping the future MVP around and his first call was to the Toronto Raptors with the hopes of landing rookie center Jonas Valanciunas.
Along with Valanciunas, the deal would have included the expiring contract of Jose Calderon along with Terrence Ross or DeMar DeRozan. Yes, the very same DeRozan who was just traded with Jakob Poltl to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard.
It would be interesting to see where all of those players would be today if the trade for James Harden had been accepted.
During the free agency period of 2012, the Oklahoma City Thunder tried to sign James Harden to a contract extension of four years and around $55 million. An agreement didn’t end up being reached and Harden was eventually traded to the Houston Rockets where his career has taken off to new levels.
Of course, everyone knew that Harden was a great player and had huge potential, but they couldn’t have known he would go on to be the league MVP.
OKC tried to sell the trade to the Raptors with the idea that he would have fit then-Toronto head coach Dwane Casey’s pick-and-roll offense. They even said that he would fit the offensive scheme better than someone like DeMar DeRozan who was the face of the franchise for the last half-decade.
Bryan Colangelo, the general manager of the Raptors back in 2012, decided to reject the trade for James Harden and hold onto Valanciunas. While the big man hasn’t been a bad player in the NBA, he most certainly has not played up to the level of an MVP.
James Harden is most likely going to finish out his professional basketball career with the Houston Rockets, and that is expected as they’ll want to hold onto him as long as possible. The NBA would look extremely different right now if the Toronto Raptors had accepted the proposed trade back in 2012 and the East may have had a new contender, but some things are simply not meant to be.