Roughly 18 months after the Nets signed two of the biggest names in franchise history, a third star is finally on the way.
James Harden is coming to Brooklyn, two months after he told the Houston Rockets he wanted to be traded away and that the Nets were his preferred destination.
The trade puts Harden alongside Kevin Durant, his former teammate in Oklahoma City, and Kyrie Irving, who played with Harden for Team USA in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. That is if Irving decides to actually show up for work one of these days.
In the immediate, the trade signals an even stronger desire to win now with Durant and Irving and a hope that another otherworldly scorer helps the Nets get rolling after a 6-6 start, which saw Durant miss a week due to contact tracing and Irving’s prolonged absence.
Many around the NBA have questioned if Harden can co-exist with Durant and Irving, two ball-dominant players, but the trade also reunites Harden with Nets assistant and former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who has catered his offenses to personnel before to great success.
The trade means the Nets won’t pick in the first round of the NBA Draft for quite some time. In fact they don’t own full control of their draft picks until 2028.
That puts immense pressure on Brooklyn to win now because there is no future.
As for Houston they get a massive haul of draft picks, what you would want as you hit the reset button on your franchise. They received Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, 3 BKN first-rounders (22, 24, 26), 1 MIL first (22, unprotected), 4 BKN 1st round swaps (21, 23, 25, 27)in exchange for Harden.
The Rockets are set for the future with those draft picks, but also have a competitive team to take the floor each night. John Wall, Victor Oladipo, Christian Wood, and Demarcus Cousins, is a solid team, one that could fight for the 8th seed.
Every franchise would be hard pressed to move their franchise player, but like Harden said last night there was no fixing the situation. The locker room turned on Harden after his preseason antics, coming in out of shape, late, and disinterested. His play on the court, or should I say his lack of play on the court, was further evidence he didn’t want to be there.
His press conference after the Lakers beat the Rockets into the ground for a second straight game, was the final nail in the coffin.
Indiana was a huge winner in all of this. They were able to flip Victor Oladipo, a guy who is an unpacking free agent asking for $20 million plus, onto a younger, cheaper option in Caris LeVert.
But there was no greater winner than the Cleveland Cavaliers. They somehow wiggled their way into this trade and walked away with a 22 year old future all star center in Jarrett Allen. They also gave up next to nothing to do so.
Allen has Rudy Gobert like abilities, and at just 22-years old, he is only getting better. The Nets will miss his presence in the middle of the defense immensely. The Cavs get their center for the future to go alongside their backcourt of Colin Sexton and Darius Garland.