The NBA’s longstanding national nightmare ended last week when the Houston Rockets finally traded James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets.
Between Rockets players openly bashing Harden and his growing apathy towards the organization he won his MVP with (which manifested itself in him attending maskless stripper parties, obviously), the entire situation was becoming almost too uncomfortable to bare. The trade provided a clean and swift resolution.
This week, all parties involved began to move on. Harden showed up to his first Nets game wearing a dress and ultimately helped lead his new team to victory. The Rockets, meanwhile, began to open up about the whole trade and why specifically they chose the Nets as a partner instead of the Philadelphia 76ers or Boston Celtics.
“What’s super exciting about this deal is that it gives us flexibility,” team GM Rafael Stone said, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
“In the NBA, picks are the best currency. Everybody likes them, everybody values them.”
Stole also mentioned the fact that this particular trade allowed the Rockets to acquire Victor Oladipo, but didn’t highlight it as the main motivator. That may be why Oladipo has said what he’s said regarding his future with the organization.
Stone’s comments on why this deal happened with the Nets, as opposed to some other group, is no doubt at least partially true. The Rockets got three first-round draft picks from Brooklyn, one first round pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers, and pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025, 2027. If picks was the currency that Houston wanted its payment in, clearly the right choice was made.
Yikes. It’s a wrap for Jackie MacMullan.https://t.co/lIFTuBiJtc
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 14, 2021
That said, a young All-Star was also on the table. According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the offer of Ben Simmons, Matisse Thybulle and draft compensation was there from Philly. The organization was so confident that the deal would happen, apparently, that “Simmons and Thybulle were even informed by their agents on Wednesday of an expected trade.”
Yet that trade didn’t happen. Why? According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, “Tilman Fertitta – the Houston Rockets owner – he was just adamant that they not make a deal with Philly, obviously with Daryl Morey being the GM over there now.”
Danny Ainge came out after the Harden trade went down and explained in great detail why he didn’t pull the trigger on a deal that would’ve landed Boston the former league MVP, but Kelly Iko and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported this week that Stone used the Celtics as leverage anyway.
The Bucks owner’s daughter decided to bring 2021 in with a bang by stripping all her clothes off. https://t.co/UgzhEEna4o
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 7, 2021
Ultimately, the Rockets ended up trading Harden to the Nets for three reasons. First, the organization really did want a lot of draft capital, and the Brooklyn deal allowed them to get it. Two, Fertitta actually does despise Morey and didn’t want to reward him. Finally, Harden preferred Brooklyn as a landing spot, and this permitted Houston to come off looking like they granted him his wish.
Now that all the dust has settled, it’s easy to see why everyone made the moves they made. What is less clear is who the big winners and losers in this transaction are. The answer to that should emerge over the next couple of years.