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James Harden trade grades: Nets go all-in on championship chase; Rockets do well with little leverage

On Tuesday evening, James Harden told reporters he did not assume his state of affairs in Houston could possibly be fastened. Lower than 24 hours later, Harden is on his solution to Brooklyn.

The Rockets are sending Harden to the Nets as a part of a four-team deal additionally involving the Cavaliers and Pacers, in keeping with a number of studies. The 76ers gave the impression to be the favorites to land the eight-time All-Star as commerce conversations picked up Wednesday, however Houston in the end accepted Brooklyn’s provide, which incorporates immense draft compensation.

What does this deal imply for the Cavaliers, Nets, Pacers and Rockets? Here’s a breakdown of blockbuster commerce.

MORE: Why does Kyrie Irving keep missing games?

James Harden commerce grades

Cavaliers obtain: Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince

Nets obtain: James Harden, second-round choose

Pacers obtain: Caris LeVert, second-round choose

Rockets obtain: Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, Victor Oladipo, 4 first-round picks (all unprotected), 4 first-round choose swaps (all unprotected)

  • Nets’ picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026
  • Cavaliers’ choose in 2022 (through Bucks)
  • Choose swaps with Nets in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027

Nets: C+

Let’s be clear: The Nets now possess an extremely gifted trio with Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Every participant is a three-level scorer able to dropping 30-plus factors on any given evening. No NBA crew can match up with these guys on paper.

However there are simply so many questions on this “Large Three.” Can Harden get again into form and be taught to alter his sport? Will Durant be capable to keep wholesome? Is Irving really serious about enjoying basketball?

Apart from the main considerations, the lack of depth additionally presents on-court points. Harden, Durant and Irving all rank within the prime 20 on the all-time leaderboard for usage percentage. They might want to sacrifice touches and work collectively to ensure that the Nets to be a contender. Defensively, oh boy. We aren’t precisely wanting on the 2003-04 Pistons right here.

A shiver could have gone down Nets’ followers spines when this commerce was reported due to the simple connection to the ill-fated deal that brought past-their-primes Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn. Harden is definitely not at that stage of his profession, and the Nets are significantly better positioned to compete for a championship now than they have been in 2013.

Nonetheless, this can be a steep value to pay for a 31-year-old who fully checked out on his final crew. Harden is underneath contract for a minimum of 2020-21 and 2021-22 (plus a $47 million participant choice in 2022-23), so there may be time for him to rework into his previous self, however not a lot. The Nets handed over management of their subsequent seven drafts to the Rockets. They want their stars to align, or the long run could possibly be darkish.

Rockets: A-

Houston did an unimaginable job to recuperate and purchase a number of property after Harden seemingly tanked his worth along with his poor play and antics. The Rockets did not snag a possible franchise cornerstone resembling Ben Simmons, however they bought a tremendous package of picks. That may give them a recent inflow of younger expertise over the subsequent decade. 

As for the gamers, Oladipo is clearly the largest piece. He has appeared a lot improved after a lackluster “bubble” displaying final 12 months, averaging 20.0 factors, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per sport. It is attainable he develops a pleasant chemistry with John Wall and Christian Wooden.

If the Rockets do not view Oladipo as match, although, they’ll look to flip him earlier than the 2021 commerce deadline. Each Oladipo and PJ Tucker are on expiring contracts, so Houston could possibly be a vendor in March.

No matter the place the Rockets find yourself within the standings, they’ve eradicated the poisonous cloud hanging over the group. First-year coach Stephen Silas and his gamers can lastly transfer on.

Pacers: B+

Indiana appeared terrific to start out the 2020-21 marketing campaign and gave the impression to be an actual risk within the Jap Convention. Swapping Oladipo for LeVert could decrease the Pacers’ short-term ceiling, nevertheless it’s a wise long-term play.

Had Oladipo continued acting at a excessive degree, the Pacers seemingly would have struggled to maintain him in free company. LeVert is signed by 2023, and at solely 26 years previous, he has his greatest years forward of him. He should work on his protection and 3-point capturing (33.9 p.c for his profession) so he could be a spot-up risk when Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis have the ball, however that might are available in time.

Do not sleep on the Pacers. They may make some noise within the 2021 playoffs.

Cavaliers: Incomplete

Even Andre Drummond thinks the Cavaliers have too many bigs on the roster.

Allen ought to match nicely as a pick-and-roll choice subsequent to Collin Sexton and Darius Garland and canopy up their defensive deficiencies as a rim protector. However will the Cavaliers clear the best way for him to play, or will he be caught backing up a veteran once more?

Drummond, Kevin Love, JaVale McGee, Larry Nance Jr. — the frontcourt is manner too crowded. Giving an incomplete seems like a little bit of a cop-out, however there must be extra adjustments coming in Cleveland. Let’s examine what occurs.

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