Grading the James Harden Trade: Winners & Losers

The Brooklyn Nets are serious about winning an NBA championship. On Wednesday, the Nets completed a blockbuster trade that ultimately involved four teams. Here are the details of the James Harden trade. 

The James Harden Trade

Again, there were four teams involved in this trade. The trade reunites Kevin Durant and Harden, who were both former teammates in Oklahoma City, and creates a “Big 3” with Durant, Harden, and Kyrie Irving. In the end, the Nets depleted their bench and their future. The trade opened up three bench sports. If they choose, the Nets can use the $5.7 million tax mid-level exception and a $5.7 million disabled player exception. 

James Harden Trade Details

  • Nets receive James Harden
  • Rockets receive Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodion Kurucs, three unprotected first-round draft picks (2022, 2024, 2026), pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025, and 2027, and Cleveland’s 2022 first-round pick, via the Milwaukee Bucks
  • Cavaliers receive Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince
  • Pacers receive Caris LeVert and Houston’s 2023 second-round pick

Grading the James Harden Trade

The NBA world was shocked that the trade went down. A trade was imminent after Harden said that the Rockets “weren’t good enough” after the team lost 117-100 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. The Philadelphia 76ers were in the mix and reportedly had offered Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey, and a few picks, but the Rockets took the package offered by the Nets. Who won this deal?

Rockets made out like bandits

The Rockets somehow received four first-round picks for a player that showed up out of shape, has played pretty poorly this season, and is known to be a locker room distraction. The Rockets held Harden out of practice on Wednesday. They didn’t have that much leverage. Instead, the Rockets get to compete this season and build for the future. 

Oladipo upgrades the team defensively and is a pretty solid scorer. He is in a contract year, so his future is up in the air. However, a trio of Oladipo, John Wall, and DeMarcus Cousins this season is a decent lineup. Maybe, the team lets Oladipo and Cousins walk after this year, lose the Wall money next season, and start reshaping their franchise. Overall, this was highway robbery. 

Grade: A+

Cavaliers receive a solid role player

For starters, Jarrett Allen should have been starting for the Nets. He was the one that closed out games, not DeAndre Jordan. Allen led the Nets in win shares this season. He was a double-double machine. The Cavaliers somehow butted their noses into this trade and came away with a young, athletic center that can replace Andre Drummond after he leaves. 

Grade: A+

Pacers did what they had to do in the James Harden trade

Oladipo was not going to resign with Indiana. It was smart that they moved him for something of value in return. Fans in Brooklyn will miss LeVert. He will match the offensive production lost from Oladipo. However, his defense is lackluster and that is going to hurt. Either way, it was smart to not let Oladipo walk away for nothing. 

Grade: C

Nets are championship or bust

James Harden is not worth four first-round picks, and two starting-caliber players. Throw in the pick swaps, and this brings back the post-traumatic stress of the Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry trade that allowed the Boston Celtics to draft the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. If the Nets don’t win an NBA title this year or next year, it’s going to be a long decade for Brooklyn. Durant, Irving, and Harden have player options after next season. In conclusion, that is a scary thought. 

Grade: D-

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