James Harden’s Houston Breakup

James Harden and the Houston Rockets suffered two debilitating losses in a row to the Lakers this past week.

After the second loss, the aforementioned disgruntled superstar let the world know his situation was beyond repair.

In response to Harden’s demands, the Rockets dealt their former franchise player to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster trade.

The full trade per Shams Charania is currently:

Rockets receive: Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, Nets 1st rounders (2022, 2024, 2026,), Bucks 1st rounder in 2022 (from nets, unprotected) and 4 1st round swaps (2021, 2023, 2025, 2027)

Nets receive: James Harden

Pacers receive: Caris LeVert, 2nd round pick

Cavs: Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince

Brooklyn Impact

This trade shuffles the power balance in the East as it gives the Nets three definite superstars —depending on when Kyrie Irving returns.

Brooklyn has always been Harden’s preferred destination, and in the day since the trade, we’ve seen reports of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant — via Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks — willing to sacrifice more to win right away.

Based on Kyrie’s role sacrifice in Cleveland and Durant’s sacrifices in Golden State, we know they are willing and able to do what it takes to win rings.

To people making jokes about Harden dribbling too much, I’d like to remind you, Mike D’Antoni pushed Harden to expand his facilitating game in the later Houston years, and many of his assists were within the flow of the game. He’s a player that can run an offense as a passer and allow Kyrie and KD to do what they do best.

On defense, Deandre Jordan can anchor the paint. Jordan’s paint presence sets a foundation for the Nets to hover around an average defense rating for the rest of the year, but the loss of Jarret Allen will hurt their rotation on that side of the ball. (Currently 13th in defensive rating)

I see Brooklyn signing some vets using the disabled player exception they received after Spencer Dinwiddie went down to sure up the defensive side of the ball.

The primary issue at this moment is the uncertainty around Kyrie.

To sum the move up, if KD, Kyrie, and Harden share the floor this season, it is championship or bust.

They gave up developing young players in Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince along with a bevy of picks, so the pressure is now on Brooklyn to produce with the high level of talent.

Rockets Re-tool

The Rockets are in a tough spot as Harden left them with no other option than to deal him, and they suddenly shift on a major roster overhaul after contending for the last couple of years.

However, they’ve received plenty of picks for the future in their trades of Harden and Russell Westbrook, so the transition is less painful for the front office — in theory — with the future addition of young talent.

Oladipo is expected to be a rental and is rumored to leave when his contract is up this year.

P.J Tucker is also projected to be a trade target for contending teams.

Despite all of the locker room turnover, a Wall/Oladipo backcourt could be fun to watch while we have it, and Wall, Cousins, and Christian Wood will welcome the change as they can now focus on competing every night and building chemistry.

Pacers

The Pacers with this move proved something that was long in speculation.

They had no plans to retain Victor Oladipo.

Caris LeVert on Fitting in With Kyrie and KD, and New Coach Steve Nash -  The Ringer
Click to watch Caris LeVert at his best against the Boston Celtics (March 3, 2020)

In return, Indiana gets a real hooper in Caris LeVert. LeVert is a certified scorer and averaged around 18 points per game last season.

LeVert’s arrival is not too much of a game-changer for the Pacers, as we’ve also seen them shift to a Brogdon/Sabonis one-two punch, but LeVert’s abilities are a strong addition to this squad.

Cavs

Keeping this last section short and sweet.

The Cavs get some young and talented frontcourt players in Allen and Prince.

I’m interested to see what this means for Andre Drummond and the other frontcourt players in the Cavs organization as they look to build around their talented guard duo of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, aka, “Sexland.”

The impact of this trade will echo through the league, and as it develops, please stay tuned into District of Buckets on all social media platforms and watch the upcoming episode of Fantasy Basketball – This Week on YouTube.

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