Nets Acquire Harden: It was just another Wednesday afternoon in January. And then, it wasn’t. Because after voicing his unhappiness on Tuesday in the postgame press conference, James Harden was finally traded by the Houston Rockets, over to the Nets.
If the trade had involved only Houston and Brooklyn, then things might be simple. But, somehow, the Indiana Pacers were able to make a play here, and the Cleveland Cavaliers wound up a better basketball team.
The Cavaliers, Nets, Pacers, and Rockets were all part of this NBA trade extravaganza. Let’s dissect what it means for each team.
Nets Acquire Harden: Rockets Find John Wall a New Running Mate
James Harden’s time in Houston had been limited from the time they lost to the Lakers in the playoffs last season. And now, it’s officially over. Houston acquired Victor Oladipo to replace him in the backcourt alongside John Wall, a player they could sign and keep around for the long-term if there is mutual interest.
In addition to Oladipo, Houston brought in Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, three Brooklyn first-round picks (2022, 2024 and 2026), one Bucks first-round pick (unprotected, 2022) and the right to pick swaps with the Nets in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027. That is a lot to unpack. But, it seems the future may be brighter for the Rockets.
It’s hard to gauge just how Victor Oladipo will fit in with this Rockets team, as they are a bit mismatched. They have several key players coming off horrific injuries within the last year that are making positive contributions on the floor thus far. John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are the players I’m referring to here.
Oladipo returned from his ACL tear suffered in January of 2019 roughly one year after the fact. He had some good moments, but has not looked anything like the superstar he had been playing like beforehand. Perhaps, he’ll have more freedom here as the second-option. Indiana had gotten a little crowded with Malcolm Brogdon and the Sabonis-Turner frontcourt.
This is not bad value for the Rockets. Though, like with the Russell Westbrook-John Wall deal, we will have to wait to gauge how they did. Finally though, they can have a more peaceful locker room. No more Beard drama.
Nets Acquire Harden: Nets Acquire Their Third Superstar
The Nets came into the year with the expectation that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant would both return to full form and be the leaders of a title-contending team. So far, Kyrie has already gone AWOL and is away from the team for “personal reasons”, while evidence recently surfaced of him at his sister’s birthday party, not socially distanced or wearing a mask.
As Kyrie is doing all of this, KD is on his own, leading the Nets to wins over teams like Denver. And now, KD’s old friend from OKC is coming to join the fun. The Nets acquired Harden from the Rockets on Wednesday, setting the stage for one of the most interesting roster dynamics we have ever seen.
We have now seen Durant-Westbrook-Harden team up as duos in several cities. What Harden brings to the Nets is uncertain right now. He’ll be a playmaker and terrific scorer. His isolations will likely decrease significantly, as they should. With the star talent around him, it would not be too helpful for him to run 20 seconds down and just fire a step-back three.
But, if you see a chance to acquire a player of Harden’s caliber, you have to take it. Hopefully he’s able to get back into prime shape, as he came into this season a bit heavier. When he gets going, James Harden is one of the most talented players in the league.
When Kyrie *eventually* returns, we’ll see how the trio can fit together.
Nets Acquire Harden: The Fro Has a New Home in Cleveland
When the Cleveland Cavaliers were rumored to be a part of this trade, the inner-Cavs fan inside of me was excited. But also, wait what? How were the Cavs going to be players here? Would they have to give up a lot? What on earth could they be bringing in?
It turns out that all the Cavs had to trade was Dante Exum and a future pick, and in exchange, they acquired Taurean Prince and Jarrett Allen from the Nets. Many have wondered what Andre Drummond’s future would be and if will end up in Cleveland. While that still remains up in the air, they now have a young big man that’s a ferocious rim protector and brings a lot of energy to the floor.
This is the second time in 11 months that Cleveland was able to acquire a big-name center without having to give up much. They traded Brandon Knight and John Henson, two guys out of the rotation, for Drummond last year. Those two and a second-round pick were shockingly enough to get the deal done. That’s some incredible finessing from GM Koby Altman.
And now, all they had to do was move a future-pick, which wouldn’t have been that high, and an oft-injured Exum, and in return they get Jarrett Allen? This is a huge win for the franchise. They now have three capable centers though, so it seems another trade would have to be imminent, so that one of them isn’t just wasting away on the bench.
Nets Acquire Harden: Caris Headed to Indiana
Victor Oladipo was clearly unhappy in Indiana. There were rumors last year that he would talk to teams during games about trying to acquire him and get him out of Indy. You never really know how true these types of stories are, but there were never any deniers, so what does that tell you?
But, to his credit, Victor put his head down this year and was playing hard. Just as he was in the bubble last season when play resumed. As he goes to Houston, the Pacers were able to acquire their final piece in Caris LeVert. His role is going to change based on his situation, as it has many times already, but Indiana will be a good fit for him.
Caris can play any position from point guard up through small forward, while making significant contributions. We’ve seen him score 50 before. He’s scored 30+ off the bench. He does whatever is asked of him without complaint. So, it’s truly great to see him in a situation where he can be an everyday starter and complement Malcolm Brogdon well.
This doesn’t mean the Pacers playoff woes will just magically end this year, but it certainly gives them a better shot. This was perfect for Indiana. They got a hard-nosed player that will bring whatever the team needs him to every night. I love this for the Pacers.