In a winter four-team blockbuster mega-deal for the ages between the Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, and Cleveland Cavaliers the 2018 NBA MVP James Harden is heading to the Brooklyn Nets team form a star-studded trio alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
While Irving spends time away from the team, bringing in a guy like Harden helps keep the Nets afloat alongside the best teams in the Eastern Conference. It’s also an interesting reunion between Durant and Harden.
As members of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Durant, and the 2012 NBA Sixth Man of the Year in Harden played together for three seasons before leading Oklahoma City to the NBA Finals in 2012. After losing 4-1 against the Miami Heat, The Beard was traded to the Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and two first-round picks – one became Steven Adams in 2013 – after failing to come to an agreement on a contract extension.
Now, can the two come together and achieve what Harden hasn’t been able to capture throughout his career – an NBA championship? Determined to do it on his own terms in Houston, James fell short with the Rockets alongside both, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, respectively.
Harden was also widely criticized for not being able to turn a 3-1 series lead against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals into a trip to the NBA Finals.
But, this time it’s different.
Reunited: Kevin Durant & James Harden-Led Brooklyn Nets Team Is NBA Finals Or Bust?
Durant is an elite talent that can be mentioned in the same breath as only LeBron James. In terms of active NBA superstar talent with a championship pedigree who’s battle-tested with epic NBA Finals performances, including back-to-back Finals MVP on his resume, Durant and LeBron are in a special class of their own.
And Kevin is itching to get back to that stage as he attempts to capture a third title and most importantly; it would be his first without the likes of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and the Warriors – a team revered as arguably the greatest championship team of all time. For Durant, becoming a champion alongside handpicked stars like Irving and Harden would strengthen his case as one of the league’s greatest players of all-time – a title that’s more often mentioned in the same breath as LeBron than Kevin’s.
With this trio, the Nets should be able to reach the Finals. However, are they good enough to take down the champion Los Angeles Lakers? That’s a question that’ll be easier to answer within the next few months.
The jury is still out. Brooklyn was an early favorite to win the East before Wednesday’s deal for Harden, this only strengthens that case. However, it’s too early to determine if this team is good enough to beat the champs.
Wish Granted: James Harden Talks His Way Out Of Houston And Into Brooklyn’s Arms
The day after Harden publically expressed the Rockets weren’t “good enough” following Houston’s 117-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston granted James’ wish. In exchange for Harden, the Nets sent the rights to swap four future first-round picks (in 2021, 2023, 2025, and 2027) to Houston.
According to multiple reports, Houston will also have to right to swap first-round picks with Brooklyn in 2022, 2024, and 2026, per Sports Illustrated. Also, the Pacers, who traded Victor Oladipo to the Rockets, will also receive Dante Exum from the Cavs.
The Pacers added offensive firepower in the form of Caris LeVert and a second-round pick from the Nets while Brooklyn also sent center Jarrett Allen, and Taurean Prince to the Cavs. The Nets also sent Rodions Kurucs to the Rockets.
Here’s how it breaks down for all four teams, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Houston Rockets Land Caris LeVert, Dante Exum & A Gang Of First-Round Picks
Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, four first-round picks, and four Nets picks swaps to Rockets
Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince
Indiana Pacers Acquire Caris LeVert, Form Dynamic Trio Alongside Domantas Sabonis Malcolm Butler
In his first 12 games of the regular season, LeVert provided to be a reliable scorer for the Nets. He started in four games and averaged 18.5 points while shooting at a 43.5% clip from the floor to go with his 4.3 rebounds a night.
There’s a new trio in Indianapolis. With Malcolm Bragdon around to complement LeVert; the pairing creates a significant two-way backcourt threat while an ascending forward with top-10 potential in Domantas Sabonis manning the frontcourt, the Pacers pose as a legitimate threat to the upper echelon teams in the Eastern Conference.
Regardless of how things pan out on the court, this deal will go down in history as one of the NBA’s most memorable trades in recent years.