Phoenix Suns Should Have Made the James Harden Trade

Jonathan CullenSenior Writer IOctober 28, 2012

The Suns made a mistake not going after James Harden
The Suns made a mistake not going after James HardenKevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

Maybe the Phoenix Suns didn't value James Harden.

Or maybe they were asleep at the wheel.

But one thing for sure is, the Suns let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers Saturday night by letting the Houston Rockets steal James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder, in this story by Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski.

Analysts will tell you that it was a good trade for both sides, and the OKC Thunder can still contend.

Sorry, I'm not buying it. Houston is far better now, and the Thunder will be facing an uphill battle to return to the Western Conference finals.

Harden was exactly the piece the Suns could have put with Marcin Gortat, Luis Scola and Goran Dragic to field a potential top-four playoff squad in the West. The 23-year-old Harden is an Arizona State graduate and was ready to move on from his role of the NBA's top sixth man to shooting guard in the league.

Instead, the Suns will watch Harden go to Houston and likely sign an extension with the Rockets, taking him off of the NBA free-agent market after this season.

Where does this put the Suns? Exactly where the were before the trade, mired in mediocrity, not good enough to win it all and not bad enough to get a top-three pick needed to turn around the team.

Suns general manager Lance Banks needed to make this move. Accruing all of the extra draft picks and tradable assets should have given him plenty of ammunition to make this trade. All of the goodwill and benefit of the doubt that the team had received this offseason just went out the window.

Phoenix appeared to be flying under the radar this season after having a very interesting offseason and trading star Steve Nash to the Lakers. They looked to be a team that could surprise a few people and compete for the seventh or eighth spot in the West, giving the fans some prospect of hope this season, until next year when free agency was supposed to pull the Suns out of the middle of the pack.

Free agency has always been the light at the end of the tunnel to the post-Nash, post-Amare, Suns.  

Now, I'm not sure what that selling point is going to be for Suns ownership.

The Suns needed to be bold. Instead they chose to remain bland.

The Suns waited on the sidelines, and now every time the Rockets come into US Airways Center, they will be reminded of that fact.