James Harden is heading to Brooklyn, becoming a member of outdated teammate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to offer the Nets a potent trio that includes among the NBA’s highest scorers.
The Nets acquired the three-time scoring champion from the Houston Rockets in a deal that turned official on Thursday, a transfer Harden has hunted for weeks.
Harden is the centrepiece of a deal that additionally concerned Cleveland and grew to a fourth group when Indiana, made a separate take care of Houston.
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 in a group of firepower to rival any Massive Three in recent times.
“It is an incredible transfer for Brooklyn. Clearly, they bought higher — method higher,” mentioned two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee.
However they paid a large worth to do it. The Nets despatched Caris LeVert and Rodions Kurucs to Houston, together with 2022, 2024 and 2026 first-round picks and the precise to swap first-round picks in 2021, 2023, 202 and 2027.
The Nets additionally despatched centre Jarrett Allen and ahead Taurean Prince to Cleveland.
The Rockets are also buying and selling LeVert to Indiana for Oladipo, an individual with information of the state of affairs mentioned.
The Nets are loading up for a title run with three of the highest-paid gamers within the league. All are below contract via 2022-23, with Harden and Durant each set to earn greater than $40 million in every of the following two seasons.
Within the meantime, the Nets had been short-handed for his or her recreation in opposition to the New York Knicks on Wednesday at Madison Sq. Backyard, the place coach Steve Nash declined to debate Harden however did affirm that the gamers the Nets had been buying and selling weren’t within the constructing throughout their 116-109 victory.
Off to a 7-6 begin in his rookie season as coach, now the previous level guard and two-time NBA MVP should mould an offence that retains the ball shifting with three gamers worthy of getting it of their palms.
“It is a easy recreation however it turns into difficult if you put totally different personalities and gamers on the ground,” Nash mentioned. “Our group’s executed a very good job being unselfish this yr and making an attempt to maneuver the ball and work collectively, so I have been pleased with that.”
The blockbuster deal offers a wanted enhance amid a interval of drama for each franchises. It was struck lower than 24 hours after Harden appeared to ship a farewell handle of kinds following the Rockets’ loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night time, and simply earlier than Irving was set to overlook a fifth straight recreation throughout a private absence from the Nets.
Harden, who has cycled via Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook as teammates in latest seasons, did not assume a lot of the roster the Rockets had round him this season.
“We’re simply not adequate. … I like this metropolis. I actually have executed every thing that I can,” Harden mentioned Tuesday night time. “I imply, this example is loopy. It is one thing that I do not assume could be mounted.”
It could not, and now he is gone.
Brooklyn expects Harden to depart all that behind him and that his transition to the Nets can be easy. He ought to be a lot happier in Brooklyn, having teamed with Durant in Oklahoma Metropolis once they had been youthful and remaining shut nonetheless.
“It was enjoyable,” Durant mentioned of their time collectively, declining to say rather more with the commerce nonetheless not accomplished.
It was apparent the tip for Harden in Houston was nearing Wednesday, when the Rockets informed him they did not need him at observe after his inflammatory feedback in regards to the group.
“We felt it was greatest for James and greatest for the group for him to not come to observe,” first-year coach Stephen Silas mentioned. About two hours later, ESPN and The Athletic first reported that Harden was being moved.
The disgruntled celebrity, who was unable to get the Rockets previous the Western Convention finals, had remained quiet via months of experiences that he was sad in Houston. Silas referred to as the drama surrounding Harden an “all-around tousled state of affairs.”
The Nets had been able to swoop in, after a shaky defence throughout the early season proved their greatest likelihood to beat groups is perhaps to outscore them.
They will definitely do this now. Durant is averaging 29.4 factors in his first season again from surgical procedure to restore a ruptured Achilles tendon, and Irving was scoring 27.1 per recreation earlier than leaving the group final week. Harden, who seems to be out of practice after becoming a member of the Rockets after coaching camp started, is averaging 24.8 factors this season after three straight seasons above 30, culminating in MVP honours in 2018.
The Rockets are 3-6 and solely Minnesota has a worse report within the Western Convention. The group is clearly in disarray, and new arrival John Wall referred to as the state of affairs “rocky.”
Harden gained every of the final 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 up to now this season ranked 18th within the NBA, nicely off his ordinary tempo.
It may choose again up once more in Brooklyn, the place Nash’s assistant working the offence is Mike D’Antoni, Harden’s coach throughout his greatest seasons in Houston.
D’Antoni did not return after final season and it rapidly turned clear Harden needed 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 out a masks in violation of the NBA’s well being and security protocols.
AP Basketball Author Tim Reynolds and Sports activities Writers Tom Withers and Noah Trister contributed to this report