Harden makes Nets Eastern Conference favorites

Keith Allison | Photo Courtesy
Harden and Durant are balling, but when (or will) Kyrie join them?

Harden and KD are all grown up, and back together again

The James Harden situation in Houston was finally solved last week as they traded him to the Brooklyn Nets in a monster four-team trade. Harden will re-join former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant along with Kyrie Irving to form the league’s lone big three at the moment.

The Rockets got a haul for the eight-time all-star. They acquired Caris Levert, Rodions Kurucs, three first round picks and four pick swaps in exchange for Harden. The draft picks are the centerpiece of the deal for Houston as they were able to restock their cupboard of assets. They also received Dante Exum and an additional first round pick from the Cavaliers.

Levert’s stay in Houston was short-lived as he was traded minutes later to the Pacers for Victor Oladipo. This deal works out well for both sides as the Rockets get a slightly better player in Oladipo, however, he will be a free agent after the season, giving the Rockets some cap flexibility.

For Indiana, Levert gives them a long-term solution as Oladipo had previously rejected Indiana’s attempts at a contract extension. Levert can also find himself to be somewhat lucky that he was included in the deal as a small mass was found on his kidney during his physical. This will leave him out indefinitely, but if he wasn’t traded that mass may not have been found.

The Cavs received Jarret Allen, Taurean Prince and the rights to Aleksander Vezenkov. Many around the league believe that Cleveland came out as the winner of the trade as they got a promising young big man in Allen without giving up all that much.

This trade could be seen as more of a necessity for the Nets than it did when Harden initially requested a trade out of Houston. With Kyrie Irving’s status up in the air, Brooklyn can’t afford to play wait and see with him and potentially waste what’s remaining of Kevin Durant’s prime.

Harden has already paid dividends as through two games with his new squad, he is averaging 33 points, 13 assists and 9.0 rebounds per game. The Nets are also 2-0 with Harden, including a win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

While the Nets are far from perfect, they should be seen as the class of the Eastern conference going forward.

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