James Harden trades: Net goes all-in on championship hunt; Rockets do well with little gearing



Tuesday evening, James Harden told reporters he did not think his situation in Houston could be fixed. Less than 24 hours later, Harden is on his way to Brooklyn.

The Rockets are sending Harden to the Nets as part of a four-team deal that also involves the Cavaliers and Pacers, according to several reports. The 76ers looked to be the favorites to land the eight-hour All-Star as trade talks picked up on Wednesday, but Houston ultimately accepted Brooklyn’s offer, which includes huge draft compensation.

What does this deal mean for the Cavaliers, Nets, Pacers and Rockets? Here is a breakdown of blockbuster trading.

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James Harden deals with qualities

Cavaliers recipient: Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince

Network receiver: James Harden, second round

Pacers receive: Caris LeVert, second round

Rockets receive: Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, Victor Oladipo, four first round selections (all unprotected), four first round swaps (all unprotected)

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Net: C +

Let’s be clear: The Nets now have an incredibly talented trio of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Each player is a scorer on three levels who is able to lose 30 plus points on any given night. No NBA team can match these guys on paper.

But there are just so many questions about this “big three”. Can Harden get back in shape and learn to change his game? Will Durant be able to stay healthy? Is Irving actually interested in playing basketball?

Aside from the major concerns, the loss of depth also presents questions in court. Harden, Durant and Irving are all in the top 20 on the leaderboard all the time for usage percentage. They will have to sacrifice hand and work together for the nets to be a challenger. Defensively, oh boy. We are not just looking at the stamps 2003-04 here.

A shock may have shaken Nets fans when this trade was reported due to the easy connection to the unfortunate deal that led Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn. Harden is certainly not at that stage of his career and the Nets are much better positioned to compete for a championship now than they were in 2013.

Still, this is a steep price to pay for a 31-year-old who completely checked out on his last team. Harden is under contract for at least 2020-21 and 2021-22 (plus a $ 47 million player option in 2022-23), so there’s time for him to transform into his old self, but not much. The Nets handed over control of their next seven draft rockets. They need their stars to adapt, otherwise the future may be dark.

Rockets: A-

Houston did an incredible job of recovering and acquiring more assets after Harden apparently refueled his value with his poor play and antics. The Rockets did not get a potential franchise cornerstone like Ben Simmons, but they did get one a huge package of choices. It will give them a fresh influx of young talent over the next decade.

As far as the players are concerned, Oladipo is obviously the biggest piece. He has looked much improved after a weak “bubble” that appeared last year, with an average of 20.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. Match. It is possible that he is developing a good chemistry with John Wall and Christian Wood.

If the Rockets do not see Oladipo as a good fit, however, they could look at turning him around before the trade deadline of 2021. Both Oladipo and PJ Tucker are about to expire contracts, so Houston may be the seller in March.

Wherever the rockets end up in the location, they have removed the toxic cloud that hangs over the organization. First-year coach Stephen Silas and his players can finally move on.

Pacers: B +

Indiana looked great to start the 2020-21 campaign and seemed to be a real threat in the Eastern Conference. Switching Oladipo to LeVert may lower the Pacers’ short-term ceiling, but it’s a smart long-term game.

Had Oladipo continued to perform at a high level, the Pacers would probably have struggled to keep him in free agency. LeVert is signed through 2023, and at just 26 years old, he has his best years ahead of him. He needs to work on his defense and 3-point shooting (33.9 percent for his career) so he can be a spot-up threat when Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis have the ball, but it may come in time.

Do not sleep on Pacers. They could make some noise in the playoffs in 2021.

Cavaliers: Incomplete

Even Andre Drummond thinks the Cavaliers have too many bigs on the list.

Allen should fit well as a pick-and-roll option alongside Collin Sexton and Darius Garland and cover up their defensive shortcomings as a rim protector. But will the Cavaliers clear the way for him to play, or will he get stuck and back up a veteran again?

Drummond, Kevin Love, JaVale McGee, Larry Nance Jr. – the front lane is too crowded. Giving an incomplete feels like a bit of a cop-out, but there should be more changes in Cleveland. Lets see what happens.





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