All the talk in the NBA world has been about how James Harden wants the Houston Rockets to trade him. It’s dominated the headlines, so much so that everyone forgot all about Victor Oladipo’s situation with the Indiana Pacers.
After not agreeing to a contract extension with the Pacers last season, Oladipo is playing the 2020-21 campaign on the final year of his deal. Reports out of Indiana over the offseason stated that the high-flyer is searching for a new home and wouldn’t be opposed to the Pacers trading him.
Wednesday was a monumental day for the NBA, not just because James Harden got traded, but because Victor Oladipo received his wish as well.
The Rockets traded James Harden to the Nets
James Harden wanted to get traded to the Brooklyn Nets to reunite with Kevin Durant and coach Mike D’Antoni. KD and Harden were teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder, while D’Antoni coached The Beard on the Rockets. The 2018 MVP publicly demanded a trade on Tuesday after the Rockets lost to the LA Lakers. Harden said Houston wasn’t good enough to compete for a title and that the situation couldn’t be fixed.
After hearing those comments, the Rockets knew they had to trade Harden as soon as possible. Houston got on the phone with the Nets and Philadelphia 76ers and agreed to a deal with Brooklyn.
At first, it appeared the Rockets were getting a bunch of future draft picks and Caris LeVert from the Nets for James Harden. While Houston is still receiving a bevy of draft picks, they are getting Victor Oladipo instead of LeVert.
Victor Oladipo is headed to the Rockets, while Caris LeVert is going to Indiana
The Pacers are trading Victor Oladipo to the Rockets for a package around Caris LeVert. Houston now has a dynamic backcourt of Oladipo and John Wall, while the Pacers have a promising young star in LeVert who figures to mesh well with All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis.
Oladipo has been searching to play in a bigger market than Indiana. He’s now set to play in Houston with Wall, Christian Wood, and DeMarcus Cousins. Oladipo is averaging 20.0 points per game on the season with the Pacers, showing the burst and speed he had before suffering that devastating injury during the 2018-19 season.
The Nets clearly won the James Harden trade since they acquired a former MVP who has led the NBA in scoring the past three seasons. However, both the Rockets and Pacers did well for themselves. Victor Oladipo should mesh well in Houston with John Wall and put up good numbers, while Caris LeVert will have an expanded role in Indiana now that he’s out of Kevin Durant’s shadow.
Will James Harden help the Nets win a title?
The Nets now have a deadly Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. However, they lost a lot of depth in the Harden trade since Caris LeVert is now on the Pacers, and Jarrett Allen got dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers. We also have to remember that Spencer Dinwiddie is likely done for the season after tearing his ACL.
Scoring won’t be an issue for the Nets with Durant, Harden, and Irving leading the way. However, defense will be a challenge for Brooklyn since Allen is a stout shot-blocker, and neither Harden nor Irving are good defenders.
The Nets were already projected to win the Eastern Conference this season. Now, they could vault the Lakers as the betting favorite to win the title if Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving can co-exist on and off the court.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.