Brooklyn-bound: Nets land Harden in blockbuster

The Rockets have despatched James Harden to the Nets in a blockbuster four-team commerce that additionally includes the Pacers and Cavaliers, finishing the sad star’s exit from Houston and establishing a possible superteam in Brooklyn.

The Nets introduced the commerce Wednesday morning. Brooklyn dealt Houston a bundle that features guard Caris LeVert and three first-round draft picks.

League sources instructed ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne that the Rockets will commerce LeVert to the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo. The Rockets and Pacers haven’t but introduced that deal.

Center Jarrett Allen and ahead Taurean Prince are headed from the Nets to the Cavs, whereas the Rockets obtain Cleveland guard Dante Exum and Brooklyn ahead Rodions Kurucs.

Houston additionally receives three unprotected first-round picks from Brooklyn — in 2022, 2024 and 2026 — plus choose swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027, the Nets introduced. The Rockets additionally get Cleveland’s 2022 first-round choose, by way of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Houston is sending a 2023 second-round choose to the Pacers, sources instructed ESPN.

Brooklyn additionally will get a 2024 second-round choose from the Cavaliers. The Nets have three open roster spots to fill out their bench, in the event that they select — a $5.7 million tax midlevel, the minimal exception and certain a $5.7 million disabled participant exception.

The megadeal reunites Harden with former Oklahoma City teammate Kevin Durant in Brooklyn and positions the Nets, who even have All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, as title contenders within the Eastern Conference.

“Adding an All-NBA participant corresponding to James to our roster higher positions our group to compete in opposition to the league’s finest,” Nets common supervisor Sean Marks mentioned in an announcement launched by the group. “James is among the most prolific scorers and playmakers in our sport, and we’re thrilled to convey his particular skills to Brooklyn.

“While we’re excited to welcome James and his household to the Nets, we additionally wish to thank the gamers who’re departing. Caris, Jarrett, Rodions and Taurean had been instrumental to the group’s success and have made an infinite impression on our group. It has been a pleasure watching them develop each as gamers and as folks and they’ll all the time be a part of our Nets household. We want every of them and their households all the very best sooner or later.”

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league’s two-time reigning MVP, mentioned the commerce is “a tremendous transfer by Brooklyn.”

“Obviously they bought higher, manner higher,” Antetokounmpo mentioned after recording a triple-double in Milwaukee’s victory Wednesday over the Pistons. “And they’re actually a powerhouse proper now within the East having KD, James Harden, Kyrie Irving collectively on one group. That’s powerful.

“But, on the finish of the day, we have to concentrate on ourselves. We’ve bought to maintain bettering, preserve taking part in good basketball and transferring ahead, we’ll see how it’s going to find yourself.”

The commerce was agreed to after the Rockets opted to maintain Harden away from Wednesday’s apply, following the previous MVP’s feedback Tuesday that Houston is not “adequate” to compete for a championship.

Harden employed Jason Ranne and Chafie Fields from Wasserman, they usually labored intently with the Rockets and all groups concerned to safe the commerce for him, sources instructed ESPN. Wasserman additionally represented Russell Westbrook and labored intently with the Rockets on his commerce to Wizards.

Harden, who was unable to get the Rockets previous the Western Conference finals, had remained quiet by way of months of studies that he was sad in Houston. First-year Rockets head coach Stephen Silas known as the drama surrounding Harden an “all-around tousled scenario.”

The Rockets are 3-6 — solely Minnesota has a worse document within the Western Conference — and Houston guard John Wall known as the scenario “rocky,” whereas fellow newcomer DeMarcus Cousins mentioned earlier than Wednesday’s commerce that Harden’s antics had been “disrespectful” to his teammates.

The Nets had been able to swoop in, after a shaky protection in the course of the early season proved their finest probability to beat groups is perhaps to outscore them. Harden gained every of the previous three scoring titles by notable margins — 2.3 factors over Anthony Davis in 2017-18, 8.1 factors over Paul George in 2018-19 and three.8 factors over Bradley Beal final season. His common to date this season ranked 18th within the NBA, effectively off his traditional tempo.

It may choose again up once more in Brooklyn, the place Nash’s assistant operating the offense is Mike D’Antoni, Harden’s coach throughout his finest seasons in Houston.

D’Antoni did not return after final season, and it rapidly grew to become clear Harden wished out too. He was a no-show when camp opened and was later fined $50,000 for conduct detrimental to the league after attending an indoor occasion with no masks in violation of the NBA’s well being and security protocols.

The Nets are scheduled to go to the Rockets on March 3 (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) — the final sport of the primary half of their schedules.

At the Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill, the Nets moved forward of the Bucks and are actually the second-favorites to win the NBA title, behind solely the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets’ title odds improved from +550 to +300.

“My first thought: It’s good to get James Harden to the East,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr instructed 95.7 The Game in San Francisco. “Lots of the dominant NBA gamers have been within the West for no matter motive. And it is good to stability it out.”

By including Harden, the Nets will have the ability to trot out a lineup of three gamers able to scoring 25 or extra factors on any night time, giving them a set of firepower to rival any massive three in recent times.

Harden and Durant, who’ve mixed to win seven of the previous 11 NBA scoring titles coming into this season, turn into the fifth pair of teammates in NBA historical past to play on the identical group after profitable a number of scoring titles, in response to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Durant, who scored 26 factors within the Nets’ 116-109 win over the Knicks on Wednesday, is averaging 29.4 factors by way of 9 video games in his first season again from surgical procedure to restore a ruptured Achilles tendon. Irving was scoring 27.1 per sport earlier than leaving the group final week for private causes.

Harden, who had joined the Rockets after coaching camp started, is averaging 24.8 factors this season after three straight seasons above 30.

ESPN’s Malika Andrews and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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