James Harden is too good of a talent to trade away just 'cause he's unhappy ... so says Kenny "The Jet" Smith ... who tells TMZ Sports the Rockets have to find a way to make things work with the superstar.
Houston has been trying to part ways with Harden for weeks ... after the 31-year-old baller expressed desires to play elsewhere earlier in the offseason.
Of course, after Harden's highly publicized trips to Atlanta and Las Vegas at the start of Rockets training camp, it appeared a breakup was on the horizon.
But, the "Inside The NBA" analyst -- who played in H-Town from 1990-96 -- tells us Houston should NOT give in to Harden's wishes ... and says the team needs to fix their relationship with the All-Star.
"Nah, I'm not trading my best player if he's not happy," Smith says. "He's gotta have a better reason. You gotta have a better reason."
"He's too good to just trade because he's not happy."
Smith adds the only way the Rockets should consider trading The Beard is if they get a player of the same talent level like Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James or Anthony Davis in return ... but let's be honest -- that ain't happening.
"James Harden is a player that doesn't come around every 10 years. So, you need a guy who doesn't come around every 10 years to match that."
Smith has a solution -- saying the front office has to sit down with Harden and break down their plan to bring the Larry O'Brien trophy back to Houston.
"You have a long conversation -- which I'm sure he should have already -- and you say, 'This is what we're going to do to win a championship.' It's all about championship talk."