Houston Rockets general manager Rafael Stone has zero doubts about trading James Harden for Victor Oladipo as part of a four-team deal with the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this season.
After dealing Oladipo to the Miami Heat at last week's trade deadline, there's plenty of hindsight but zero remorse.
Stone told reporters Monday:
"I would for sure, 100 percent, do that deal again. Again, you guys don't have the advantages of knowing everything I know, but literally no part of me regrets doing that deal. I have not second-guessed it for a moment.
"A lot of what I said about being in a position maybe to not have to be bad [to rebuild], there's some other things that we've done, too, but it's primarily that deal that's allowed us to say, 'Hey, we want to compete on a slightly quicker time frame.' We're not going to go down this path of intentionally trying to lose games for years on end."
Essentially, the Rockets traded Harden in the prime of his career for Oladipo, the Nets' first-round picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026 and the right to swap first-round selections with the Nets in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027. Houston then sent Oladipo to Miami for Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a 2022 draft-pick swap.
There's never a guarantee that draft picks will amount to anything—let alone an MVP-caliber shooting guard who can get a triple-double at will—but that doesn't mean Stone was wrong to make the trades he did.
Harden wanted out of Houston, and Oladipo wasn't going to help the team's future.
With Christian Wood, Jae'Sean Tate and Kevin Porter Jr. as the franchise's building blocks, the Rockets might not need to suffer through years of a rebuild in order to contend again. But they weren't going to get back to the playoffs by holding onto talent looking to win now.
Stone is trying to keep his mind focused on that bigger picture.
"I think we felt at the time that we did the best deal for the franchise possible," he said. "Obviously, that's my job, so I did it. Particularly given the types of things we got back, yeah, it feels like you can't possibly know how you did for multiple years—like three, five, something like that. But I feel good about it. I do feel good about it."