In an earth-shattering trade just a few weeks into 2021, the Houston Rockets reportedly traded former MVP James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets after a rocky start to the 2020-2021 regular season.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, the Nets acquired Harden around 4 p.m. ET on January 13, less than 24 hours after a controversial comment from Harden at a postgame press conference.
The deal reportedly included the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
According to Charania, the Rockets received Victor Oladipo from the Pacers, along with Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, three of the Nets’ future first-round picks, one unprotected pick from the Milwaukee Bucks for 2022, and four first-round swaps with the Nets in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027.
Caris LeVert and a second-round pick were sent to the Pacers as part of the Oladipo trade, while Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince were sent to the Cavaliers.
“Brooklyn has granted James Harden’s wish to be reunited with Kevin Durant with the Nets,” Wojnarowski wrote. “Huge haul for the Rockets, but the Nets were determined to get another All-NBA player in his prime — and get him with Harden. KD, Harden … and Kyrie Irving.”
The deal arose quickly, getting finalized one day after Harden told reporters that his relationship with the Rockets seemed unsalvageable. He expressed his feelings in a message that ultimately turned out to be his final goodbye as a member of the Rockets, and wasn’t even a part of the team’s practice the following day.
“I love this city. I’ve literally done everything I can,” Harden said. “This situation is crazy. It’s something I don’t think can be fixed. Thanks.”
Now, the question turns from “When will James Harden get traded?” to “What’s next for the Rockets?”
Many are wondering how the franchise will move forward, especially after trading star point guard Russell Westbrook just a month prior in a deal with the Washington Wizards.
While it may seem like a massive loss for the Rockets, the deal may be the ultimate blessing-in-disguise.
The rest of the players in the locker room can finally move on from the endless drama Harden brought to the table over the prior few months, and new faces like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins can try to build something special with fresh blood like Oladipo, and plenty of draft capital moving forward.
On the flip side, the Nets get everything they could ever need to compete for a title, placing Harden in an already star-studded lineup that includes Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, Irving has turned into a question mark of his own during an absence from the team, and the entire situation could blow up in the organization’s face in a matter of months.
Maybe the Nets will decide to trade for Russell Westbrook to get the old Oklahoma City Thunder band back together? Maybe this trio of Durant, Harden and Irving takes the Nets to the NBA Finals? And maybe, just maybe, the Nets fall apart as a result of the deal, and the Rockets come across as the big winners.
No matter what, the Harden deal is arguably the biggest domino to fall in the 2020-2021 NBA season, and its impact will be extraordinary, no matter how the situation plays out.