Winners & Losers of the Harden Blockbuster Trade to Brooklyn
In a blockbuster deal that saw the disgruntled James Harden traded to Brooklyn from Houston, the NBA world was shaken up by yet another superstar forcing his way out of a franchise in search to assemble a superteam.
Let's talk about some early winners/losers.
First and foremost, the Rockets lost this trade in a massive way. They said they would be patient. They stated the price for Harden would be steep. But when Harden mouthed off to reporters on Tuesday, saying the Rockets are "just not good enough," the Rockets felt the need to rush the trade.
You're really telling me there wasn't something out there better than Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs and four first rounders?
Cleveland has four centers that they can rotate—Andre Drummond, Jarrett Allen, Larry Nance Jr. and JaVale McGee. Yikes.
On the plus side, the young nucleus of Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro and Allen could possibly work out in the long run.
(Partial) Winner: Indiana?
I'm being nice here.
The Pacers and Victor Oladipo weren't able to agree on a contract extension over the offseason, which foreshadowed a potential trade. He's averaging 20 points per game, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists this year.
If the Pacers had simply waited later this year to deal Oladipo, maybe a contender would have been desperate for an expiring piece like Oladipo and would've traded a better package in return, including draft compensation.
However, Indiana cashed in their chips and got Caris LeVert, who could be a valuable addition to the Pacers.
Winner: Player Empowerment
The biggest winner of this blockbuster trade is the NBA player empowerment movement. Stars are constantly changing teams and the constant movement is turning away basketball purists.
First, Anthony Davis forced his way out of New Orleans with two years left on his contract. The Pelicans did get a respectable trade package in return from the Lakers, but the trade left a lot of people upset with the way it was handled.
Here, Harden's recent history in Houston saw the superstar (1) lobby to trade for Chris Paul; (2) lobbied to the front office to trade Paul for Russell Westbrook; (3) lobbied that the front office trade Westbrook; and (4) demanded that he be traded after Houston's title run looked to be far away.
Loser: Steve Nash & Kyrie Irving
Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks spent the last several years building an up-and-coming contender with the Nets only to see a group of the young assets being dealt away to assemble a star-studded group. Good luck managing three superstars' egos, Steve Nash!
Kyrie Irving, who has missed several games due to personal reasons, now becomes a third scoring option. Try telling Irving that he will now have to take a back seat on this team. For a guy that believes he's still a top-10 player in the league, good luck playing next to Kevin Durant and Harden.
Losers: Celtics, 76ers, Nuggets, Clippers, Heat & any other contender
Seriously, why didn't another contender step in for the back-to-back scoring champion?
The Nuggets could've put Harden alongside Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray in exchange for Michael Porter Jr. and company.
Celtics could've sent a trade package led by Marcus Smart, young players and draft compensation.
76ers had a trade package around Ben Simmons—but probably had a change of heart and wanted to keep the young superstar.
And so on.
And so forth.
Loser: The rest of the Eastern Conference
The NBA has its newest superteam in Brooklyn. Suddenly, Miami's quest to repeat as Eastern Conference champions looks way harder. Does Milwaukee have enough firepower to keep up with Brooklyn? How can the Celtics, Pacers and 76ers keep up with the likes of Brooklyn?
The Nets become the new favorites to win the East, but did it cost the league even more lost reputation?