by Jamaar Hawkins, i64sports
The James Harden era is officially over in Houston. The eight-time all star selection was traded to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night in a multi-team deal. In exchange for Harden Houston will receive four first-round picks from the Brooklyn Nets. Cleveland Cavaliers will receive Nets center Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince.
Harden, who came into the 2020-21 regular season unhappy with the current state of the Rockets and all but demanded a trade. While Brooklyn was thought to be one of his preferred destinations entering the season the Rockets were unmoved in their unwillingness to deal Harden. But as recently as Tuesday night it appeared the fractured relationship was beyond the point of no return.
Brooklyn will retain the rights to all star guard Kyrie Irving, who is still away from the team as he deals with unspecified issues. A locked in Irving would give Brooklyn a dynamic three-head monster that could certainly contend for a NBA title. But in reality the trio will likely become a duo much sooner than later. Irving is certainly making no friends within the Nets organization with his recent absence.
In addition to the larger deal, Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo was also traded to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Caris Lavert. Houston gets a former All-Star coming off an injury while the Pacers receive a budding young star in Lavert who was a potential sixth man of the year candidate in Brooklyn. Apparently, Portland Trailblazers guard Damian Lillard is a fan of the Lavert for Oladipo swap.
Social media was abuzz following the trade news. Some believe Brooklyn gave up way too much although you have to figure the first round picks (even pick swaps) will not likely effect the Nets immediate future. Unlike the 2013 trade when Brooklyn sent three first-round draft picks to the Boston Celtics for the for the rights to an aging Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. That trade ended up being highway robbery for Celtics although that Nets team was nowhere near contention like this year’s bunch.
On another note, Cleveland got a very good rim protector in Jarrett Allen. Following the post-LeBron era the Cavs appear to be finally on the way out of lottery purgatory. A few reserve pieces like Allen and Prince will mix in well with the team’s young stars.
What are your thoughts? Can Brooklyn truly be a contender with this new trio? Comment below!