Harden Waves Hello to Brooklyn
In a move that has shaken the NBA to the core, James Harden has left the Houston Rockets to link up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at the Brooklyn Nets in a monster trade. Joe Bell takes a look at what the move to Brooklyn could mean for The Beard’s career going forward.
As 2020 ends and 2021 begins, a lot of questions have been asked as to when the negativity and hard times will end – I’m afraid to say that if you are a Houston Rockets fan, it might just be the beginning. As of Thursday 14th January, it has been officially confirmed that James Harden has been traded from the Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets. But what exactly does this mean for James Harden and the future of his career?
With rumours of the trade beginning to circulate, many considered why Harden would part ways with the franchise he devoted nine years of his career to. It became increasingly clear that the point guard had become unhappy with the Rockets’ recent performances and current league standing, going to social media to vent his frustrations. The Rockets currently sit one place above the very bottom of the Western Conference with a 3-6 win-loss record, carrying on their slump which arguably began at the beginning of 2020.
Most NBA fans were surprised at the news of a possible trade but even more shocked at the destination as both the Nets and Harden confirmed the deal over Twitter. In making the move to Brooklyn, Harden will link up with another two modern NBA greats in point guard Kyrie Irving and former teammate Kevin Durant, as the franchise looks to build their very own all-star trio to lead the team to success. In a statement from the Nets, general manager Sean Marks said: “James is one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in the game, and we are thrilled to bring his talent to Brooklyn.”
On the other side of the trade, although Houston are set to lose one of the league’s best, they gain three competent players in return in small forward Victor Oladipo, power forward Rodions Kurucs and shooting guard Dante Exum. Furthermore, they receive four unprotected first-round draft picks, giving them a greater opportunity to bring the brightest college athletes to Houston in the coming years. With this move, alongside players such as Jarett Allen and Caris LeVert leaving Brooklyn, the roster has thinned significantly, with this trade looking like a high risk that needs to pay off. NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal described the trade as a “championship-or-bust move”, suggesting how crucial of a role Harden will play for this ambitious Brooklyn team.
California-born Harden has earned himself a reputation within the league as one of the best point guards in the last decade, with his efforts being recognised in 2018, when he was named as the NBA MVP. After playing college basketball at Arizona State for two years, Harden was drafted as the third overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, joining the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he played for three years before moving to Houston in 2012. In his nine years with the Rockets, Harden cemented himself as one of the league’s best, making the All-Star team for eight straight years between 2013 and 2020 and leading the league in scoring every year since 2018 .
With this latest acquisition, the Nets look as strong as ever, with places for Harden, Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan in their starting five – their confidence will be sky-high, as they hope to make a real statement to their competition this season. While the Nets haven’t won a Championship since the ABA merged with the NBA in 1976, winning only two Division Titles in 2002 and 2003, they will certainly be hoping for better fortune over the next few seasons. On the other hand, with this huge loss, how will the Houston Rockets line up? With the acquisition of these draft picks, the Rockets are in a strong place for the future, arguably having full control of Brooklyn’s draft capital until 2027. This season, Oladipo will provide some short-term relief for the missing Harden but his susceptibility to injury might be a cause for concern and the Rockets might have to do some more shopping if a total rebuild is what they desire.
James Harden will certainly be more satisfied with life at Brooklyn who lie 6th in the Eastern Conference with a 7-6 record. Some strong performances at home have solidified them in the top half of the standings, but with many more games to go time will only tell if their huge investments will pay off.