The James Harden trade shocked the NBA world on Wednesday. But, he was clearly unhappy with his organization. On Tuesday night, Harden said in a post-game press conference, “We’re just not good enough. I love this city. I’ve literally done everything that I can. This situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed, so, yeah” (per ESPN).
This led to Rafael Stone, the Rockets general manager, to make some calls in his first year as the Rockets’ general manager. In the end, he was able to send James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets in a four-team blockbuster trade that shocked the NBA. Check out the analysis and breakdown of the entire trade below.
Gave Up: James Harden
Got Back: Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs. Nets’ first-round, unprotected picks in 2022, 2024, 2026, and the Cavaliers’ first-round pick in 2022 (Bucks). Nets pick-swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025, and 2027.
The Houston Rockets received a major haul of talent and draft capital from the Nets. They have the Nets’ draft stock for the next seven NBA drafts (remember what happened the last time the Nets gave away draft capital).
The Rockets also got back Victor Oladipo, who has averaged 20 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. Oladipo is also a solid perimeter defender, with a career 0.5 defensive box plus/minus.
Rodions Kurucs’ minutes have declined on the loaded Brooklyn Nets roster. But, in his rookie year, he played over 20 minutes per game. Per 36 minutes, he averages double-figures in points and nearly rebounds. He is a young talent that could have a great role as a post-player and add interior defense.
Dante Exum is not the best addition, but he is still young (25) with plenty of NBA experience (5 years). He has averaged a career of 5.7 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game in his career. He is not an exciting piece, but his potential is solid for a former fifth pick.
The Houston Rockets certainly won their side of the deal. Rafael Stone was put into a tough situation with having to give up their best player, who they built their roster around this past off-season. But, they got an excellent return with eight draft picks and three players to fill in for the absent Harden. Stone has done well with his first two acquisitions, trading Harden and John Wall for reasonable returns.
Got Back: James Harden
The Brooklyn Nets gave up a lot of their future to get the former MVP and 3x scoring champion. They gave away a lot of their future building in the draft with eight possible picks to give away. Plus, they gave away solid bench players like Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Taurean Prince. The Nets lost a lot of interior defense and depth to their roster for the cost of another star.
It’s hard to say a team did not improve after acquiring James Harden. Harden is one of the most prolific scorers and facilitators in the NBA, and he is paired with superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The biggest issue that comes up with these three is on-court chemistry.
Currently, KD and Kyrie both average close to 40 field goal attempts per game, along with usage percentages of over 30% each. James Harden has the highest usage percentage of the three last season, with a 36.3% usage percentage and taking 20+ field goal attempts per game for the last three years. It will be interesting to see where rookie head coach Steve Nash goes with this new team.
Gave Up: Dante Exum
Got Back: Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince
The Cleveland Cavaliers got a steal in this trade. They gave up Dante Exum, who averages a career 5.7 points per game and has not played a full season since his rookie year.
In return, they got back Jarrett Allen, who averages 11.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in just 26.7 minutes per game. Allen is also an excellent interior defender, with a career average of 1.4 blocks per game and a career 0.9 defensive box plus/minus.
The Cavaliers also received Taurean Prince. Prince averages a career 11.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. He is not the most efficient player, with a -1.9 career box plus/minus, but he can be effective off the bench.
While the Cavaliers got a solid return for just Dante Exum, there is work to be done. They still have five centers on their team, not including big man Kevin Love or Larry Nance Jr. Plus, they have Cedi Osman locked in as their starting small forward over Taurean Prince. They will need to get rid of some pieces to make this trade effective, but if they do, it will be a win for them.
Gave Up: Victor Oladipo
Got Back: Caris LeVert and 2023 second-round pick
The Indiana Pacers had an awkward place in this trade. After the Rockets acquired Caris LeVert from the Brooklyn Nets, he was immediately traded to the Pacers for Victor Oladipo. Oladipo played a strong role in their team, but the Pacers may have won this part of the deal too.
Oladipo told Shams Charania of The Athletic last season, “I know there have been people saying that I have asked players to trade for me. That’s just not true, period. I love my teammates, I cherish the state of Indiana and I’m focused on leading this franchise to a title.”
Whether or not the reports are true, Oladipo’s contract ends by the end of this year. If the Pacers would have been unable to sign back their star player, they would have received nothing guaranteed in return except cap space. However, they turned the disinterested Oladipo into Caris LeVert, who is younger than Oladipo and has three more years on his deal.