It finally happened. What had been accepted as inevitable finally came to be. James Harden has forced his way out of Houston. When it was all said and done, four teams were involved, seven players switched teams, and eight draft picks were moved (four definitely, four open to swaps). As the dust settles, we take a look at who are the winners and losers of this trade.
The four teams involved in this trade were the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, and Cleveland Cavaliers. The trade breakdown was:
- Rockets Receive: Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, three Brooklyn First Round Picks, Milwaukee’s 2022 First Round Pick (from Brooklyn), four First Round swaps with Brooklyn.
- Nets Receive- James Harden
- Pacers Receive- Chris LaVert, & and a Second Round Pick
- Cavaliers Receive- Jarrett Allen & Taurean Prince
The Biggest [Trade] Loser
The clear losers of this trade are Brooklyn Nets. Yes, they get a great talent in James Harden. However, this is a team that is already dealing with drama within itself. Kyrie Irving is doing Kyrie Irving things and is not with the team. That might be better for the team with Harden on board, to be honest.
If or when Irving rejoins the Nets, they will have a starting five that includes James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant. On paper, that is a frightening matchup for any team in the East. However, we already know the Harden-Durant experiment does not work. In addition, all three players want the ball and they want to shoot.
There may be some games in which shots fall and there is enough to go around. However, those will be few and far between. If the 2004 Lakers showed us anything, it’s that a team with all the star power in the world can lose.
Not only is there no guarantee that the three divas will mesh, the Nets also mortgaged their First Round picks for the rest of the decade. Granted, they will still have first round picks. However, the Rockets can swap with them for favorable draft position.
The Other Loser
The Indiana Pacers lose out on an All-Star caliber player in Victor Oladipo. They did receive Chris LaVert, who is a nice bench player. In 12 games (four starts), he is averaging 18.5 points per game. He may start for the Pacers since Oladipo was their starting shooting guard, but how will he adjust to a starting role?
The Biggest Trade Winners
Here’s a hot take: the big trade winners were not even involved in this trade. They are the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers. Going into the season, the Bucks, 76ers, and Nets were considered the top three teams in the East. For the reasons mentioned above, the Nets are no longer that large of a threat.
Let’s say, for a moment, that the Nets’ egotistical trio meshes for a little bit. That will be all well and good for them, but they have no bench pieces that strike fear into anyone anymore. The lack of depth may not be too big of a concern in the regular season. However, come Playoff time, it will lead to huge issues. The East will go through Milwaukee or Philadelphia for sure now.
The Other Winners
Houston wins this trade because they got rid of the headache that was James Harden. Not only that, they have a plethora of First Round Picks that can be used to select young stars or used in future trades. Indeed, they have so many Firsts that Sam Presti is probably jealous.
Also in return, they receive an All-Star caliber player in Oladipo. They also get the benefit of a peaceful locker room. When asked if he felt betrayed by Harden, center DeMarcus Cousins said he came to Houston to play with John Wall anyway.
The Cavs also win this trade because they are free of draft bust Dante Exum. Exum was originally taken with the fifth pick by the Jazz in 2014. He has never amounted to anything was averaging an whopping 3.8 points this season. Jarrett Allen (11.2 ppg) and Taurean Prince (8.1 ppg) are obvious upgrades.