New York truly is the City That Never Sleeps.
First it was Kyrie, now the Brooklyn Nets have set the NBA world alight by trading a massive haul to acquire James Harden in what can only be described as a true blockbuster trade on Wednesday that involves a total of four teams, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Romona Shelburne.
The Nets will receive James Harden in the deal; the Indiana Pacers will receive Brooklyn’s Caris LeVert and a second-round pick; and the Cleveland Cavaliers will receive Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince.
The Rockets, meanwhile, will walk away with an all-time haul. The big addition for the present is Indiana’s Victor Oladipo who will be joined in his trip to H-Town by Cleveland’s Dante Exum, and Brooklyn’s Rodions Kurucs. The real crown jewel of this deal is the picks package, however, which includes Brooklyn’s first-round choices in ‘22, ‘24, and ‘26, first-round swaps with the Nets in ‘21, ‘23, ‘25, and ‘27, and a Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick in ‘22 to top it all off. And, oh yeah, all of the picks Houston is receiving are unprotected.
While Harden has been demanding a trade for several months, his comments following a wire-to-wire loss to the Lakers on Tuesday during which he said that his team was not good enough and that his situation with the Rockets had reached an “untenable” point of no return certainly ramped up talks again. The Sixers were supposedly in the mix with a package centered around Ben Simmons, but in the end it was Brooklyn who won the Beard sweepstakes.
The Harden deal for Brooklyn is reminiscent of when they mortgaged their future to get aging stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Joe Johnson a decade ago before falling into years of irrelevance. The difference here is that Harden is much younger and seemingly still in the prime of his career—if he can lose all the weight he put on to help force this trade. We don’t have many doubts there though.
With Irving still MIA, this could even be seen as a bit of a cover-your-butt move by the Nets, who certainly want to keep Kevin Durant happy. The Beard and the Durantula will reunite for the first time since they played together in OKC back in 2012.
The Nets will certainly score a ton of points, but without Allen there to patrol the paint, they may have a tough time against the defending champion Lakers’ Anthony Davis in a potential Finals matchup. Brooklyn is sitting at +360 odds on 10Bet to win it all as of this writing, so if you believe this new trio of superstars can get the job done, hop on the train.
While the Nets are the closest to title contention of the quartet involved in this trade, the Rockets certainly came out as the big winners. Not only did they unload a disgruntled player and his salary, they also flipped a young and mostly unproven talent in LeVert for a proven entity and All-Star in Oladipo. He, along with stars John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins as well as emerging threat Christian Wood, should be able to help Houston reach the playoffs this season.
And that’s all before even getting into the four first-round picks and four first-round pick swaps they add to a treasure chest that is starting to rival the one that Sam Presti’s hoarding out in Oklahoma City. The Rockets are now set up for some reasonable short term success while also arming themselves with resources for the long term.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers acquired yet another seven-foot rim protector to go with Andre Drummond, Larry Nance Jr., and JaVale McGee. Obviously, Allen is the youngest and boasts the highest ceiling, so one or two of those other guys are almost guaranteed to be moved in the coming days. Allen joins what is all of a sudden starting to become a very exciting young group in The Land.
Meanwhile, the Pacers picked up one of the better young talents in the league in LeVert. LeVert joins one of the most quietly impressive squads in the game, stepping into a lineup that includes two solid pick-and-roll bigs in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis and a rejuvenated Malcolm Brogdon alongside him in the backcourt. These Pacers should be able to finish in the 4-6 seed range in the Eastern Conference.
It remains unclear who really ‘won’ this trade, but it seems that the Nets certainly got their guy and the Rockets set themselves up for sustained success over the next several years. If the Nets don’t get a championship with Harden in the next few years, however, they will unequivocally be labeled the losers of this deal, and deservedly so.