Amidst the Toronto Raptors’ shaky start to the 2020-2021 season, many fans are calling for the team to mortgage its future in favour of bringing James Harden to Tampa Bay. The outgoing package would likely be centered around Pascal Siakam, or OG Anunoby, or both, leaving the Raptors frontcourt gutted. The squad would be even more of an imbalanced than it already is, looking very guard-heavy.
Upon such a trade, subsequent moves would have be made to land a star in the frontcourt to pair next to Harden and Kyle Lowry, potentially by dangling Fred VanVleet, who becomes tradeable in March. Would it really be worth putting the team in a Clippers-like position, just to contend for the next two years? There’s a long line of super-teams that haven’t gone on to win the championship. There are even more that didn’t make it half as far. Here’s a shortlist of failed super-teams to make you think twice about whether the Raptors should bring Harden to Tampa.
Houston Rockets 1998-99
Not every super-team guarantees success and the Houston Rockets have been very unfortunate in this respect. Fresh off his sixth title with the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen may not have been at the height of his motivation. Coupling him with an aging Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, did not help. The Rockets were unfortunate to face the red-hot Lakers featuring Shaq and Kobe. The greatest one-two punch in NBA history made light work of the Rockets in the first round and that would be the end of the Rockets’ big three, as we knew it.
Los Angeles Lakers 2003-04
In the ‘03-’04 season, the Lakers had all the power they wanted with O’Neal and Bryant in their ranks but their relationship was strained. A title would be a great way to gloss up whatever underlying issues so the Lakers added two-time MVP Karl Malone, and Gary “the glove” Payton to the roster. In any other season, this big four would obliterate the competition, but injuries would plague the team, ruining any chance at real chemistry. The Lakers would lose to the Detroit Pistons in the finals, and breakup in the offseason.
Los Angeles Lakers 2012-13
Bryant was now sole commander-in-chief of the Lakers and the team bent to his will. For someone who led by example, Kobe wanted teammates who matched his intensity and drive to be the best. Steve Nash was quiet but not any less fiery of a competitor; while Dwight Howard was the most intriguing big man that the league had seen since Shaq and was a hot commodity. However, the rising Howard did not have the kind of motor that Kobe desired in his teammates and that led to a clash of personalities which would ultimately come to the fore after Bryant tore his Achilles. The more laid back Howard would fail to take proper charge of the team and that would be the end of that paper powerhouse team.
Oklahoma City Thunder 2017-18
Without Kevin Durant, recently a Golden State Warrior, the Thunder were in the hands of Russell Westbrook, and he could only achieve one of the best MVP runs ever in the history of the league, but it was not enough. The 2017 offseason was their time to make moves, and the front office did just that, bringing in Paul George, and one of the best scorers in the league in Carmelo Anthony. Anthony was past his dominant prime but he had the perfect balance of experience and game. The Thunder suddenly looked like a contender again and played like it when they needed to until a rookie Donovan Mitchell got under the skin of George and Westbrook while Carmelo Anthony struggled with his consistency and changing role in the NBA. That big three was shut down pretty quick. The below graphic from Betway shows the already mentioned failed superteams, and a few more to boot!