Following much speculation, the Brooklyn Nets have acquired James Harden from the Houston Rockets. The Nets have added another elite talent to the mix to their core group. However, the trade for Harden means much more about Kevin Durant than anything.
Nets acquiring James harden
The last several weeks have seen the drama with the Houston Rockets concerning James Harden continue to unfold.
The situation hit a breaking point on Wednesday afternoon as the Rockets pulled the trigger to move Harden to the Brooklyn Nets in a four-team blockbuster deal. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Houston is receiving three unprotected first-round draft picks (2022, 2024, 2026) and pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025, 2027).
Meanwhile, the Rockets will get the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2022 first-round pick and a future second-round pick from the Indiana Pacers. Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince are headed to the Cavaliers, while Houston will get Dante Exum and Rodions Kurucs.
On top of that, Houston has used some of those assets, such as Caris LeVert to acquire former All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. There may be many details worked out, but Harden will get his wish granted.
James Harden’s arrival means much more about Kevin Durant
After weeks of speculation, the blockbuster move to acquire James Harden has put the Nets in a potentially unique situation.
Harden’s arrival puts an even greater spotlight on the Nets concerning their championship aspirations this season. Beyond that, it also may have cleared a path for their long-term future concerning Kevin Durant.
Kyrie Irving’s recent antics may put a cloud over what lies ahead for him in Brooklyn. However, the move appears to signal that the Nets strongly desire to keep Durant for the long haul beyond his current deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The 32-year-old is in the second year of his four-year, $164.2 million deal that contains a $42.7 million player option for the final year for the 2022-23 campaign. It’s well documented that Durant holds a strong bond with Harden, whose current contract runs through the 2022-23 season with a $47.3 million player option that year.
The Nets may have some uncertainty around Irving’s status, but the focus will remain on keeping Durant well beyond his deal. Harden could play a massive part in that as the two stars can work out their next contracts in accordance with each other to stay in Brooklyn for many years to come.
NBA title pressure amped up
If the pressure wasn’t already on the Nets to contend this season, James Harden’s arrival amps that up another level.
Harden is one of the game’s best talents and adds another bonafide scoring threat to the mix. Although Kevin Durant and Harden have previous experience playing next to each other years ago with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the two are vastly different players.
There will be a grace period as all three learn to best work together on the floor. Each has excelled with the ball in their hands, but that will have to change drastically for their pairing to work in Brooklyn.
The trade also brings some concern about the Nets’ defense, given they moved one of their primary rim protectors in Jarrett Allen. Backup center DeAndre Jordan will likely play a more significant role in the frontcourt, but there remains much to be worked out.
The talent level is certainly there as the newly-formed big three could quickly become a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference. There are other formidable challengers in the conference, such as the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and Philadelphia 76ers.
Time will tell if this new big three can bring forth realistic championship aspirations.
Contract numbers courtesy of Spotrac.