Former NBA MVP dealt to Brooklyn Nets in four-team trade
By Zach Worden, Sports Editor
Trade rumours had been swirling in Houston even before the 2020-21 NBA season started. Rockets star guard James Harden made headlines by not reporting to training camp on time and requesting to be traded out of clutch city.
Harden, an eight-time all-star, three-time scoring champ, and the 2017-18 NBA MVP, had revolutionized the way basketball is played throughout his eight seasons with the Rockets.
Houston seemed committed to either holding onto their star or getting a massive return for Harden to start the season. But, everything changed on Jan. 12, when the Rockets lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. Harden seemed like he refused to play hard in the game, scoring only 16 points in the team’s loss.
In his post-game press conference, Harden said, “I love this city, I’ve literally done everything I can. This situation is crazy. I don’t think it can be fixed.”
Two days later, Harden was shipped to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a four-team trade. The other two teams involved were the Cleveland Cavaliers who picked up Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince as a part of the deal, and the Indiana Pacers who sent their own former all-star Victor Oladipo to the Rockets in exchange for Caris Levert.
In return for Harden, the Rockets received the aforementioned Oladipo, Rodions Kurucs and Dante Exum, as well as four first-round picks and four first-round pick swaps.
In their second year with superstar duo Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets decided to make a huge splash and acquire Harden. With arguably the largest collection of offensive talent assembled on one team in the history of the NBA, the Nets signed to the rest of the league that they intend on winning now.
Despite the acquisition of Harden, results have been mixed for the Nets since making the trade. The team is 2-2 with Harden in the lineup, including a win over co-Eastern Conference favourite, the Milwaukee Bucks, while losing back-to-back games to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Throughout his first four games as a Net, Harden has averaged 26.5 points, 12.3 assists, and 8.3 rebounds, showing dramatic improvement over his numbers from the start of the season in Houston.
After giving up an average of just under 130 points per game, the Nets should ask themselves how they will address the defensive end of the floor. Harden, Durant, and Irving profile as mediocre to great defensive players, depending on their effort level. After trading away key depth pieces like Allen and Levert, the Nets will be forced to give more opportunities to unproven players like Reggie Perry and Bruce Brown to fill out their rotation.
There is no question that the Nets have firmly put themselves in the title conversation. But, if they want to see their star trio hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the year, they still have some work to do.