HOUSTON – As the old adage goes, “ask and you shall receive” – and James Harden definitely received what he has been asking for since the off-season.
In a blockbuster four-team trade involving the Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers, Harden was reunited with his one-time Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant in Brooklyn as the Houston Rockets have decided the drama surrounding the former franchise cornerstone was too much to ignore any more.
The deal is as follows:
Brooklyn receives: James Harden via Houston
Cleveland receives: Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince via Brooklyn
Houston receives: Victor Oladipo via Indiana, Dante Exum and Rodions Kurucs via Cleveland, 7 draft picks via Brooklyn (between 2021-2027) and 2022 unprotected draft pick via Milwaukee Bucks
Indiana receives: Caris LeVert, 2021 second-round draft pick via Brooklyn
The trade caps off what has been a months-long standoff between Harden and the Rockets, starting with the initial trade request in November followed by missing out on the beginning of training camp after attending Da Baby’s birthday party in Las Vegas and violating the league’s COVID-19 protocol. The last straw came after Tuesday’s 112-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers when he came out and basically said the team was not good enough to compete in the Western Conference.
“[The Rockets are] just not good enough. Chemistry, talent-wise, it was clear…,” Harden said before adding, “I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”
The Rockets are currently 3-5 on the season with essentially an entirely new roster – Christian Wood, Demarcus Cousins and John Wall are all off-season additions, along with a new head coach in Stephen Silas and new general manager Rafael Stone. Harden had initially requested a trade along with now-Washington Wizard guard Russell Westbrook after the hiring of Silas and Stone, claiming that the team wasn’t in a position to win and wanted to go to a team that could compete. The Nets have been on Harden’s short list since the request, and ultimately got to the team he wanted all along.
The deal now pairs the former scoring champ with Kevin Durant, who has won two NBA Finals MVP awards since the last time the two paired together in the 2012 NBA Finals. With Kyrie Irving also in the mix, the Nets on paper are nearly a sure lock to win the Eastern Conference is they can all remain healthy and on the court.