Houston – The James Harden saga ended Wednesday when the Houston Rockets traded the star guard to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a four-team deal.
The move comes one day after a disgruntled Harden went on a postgame rant following Tuesday’s 117-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Rockets told Harden not to attend Wednesday’s practice.
Houston reportedly received guard Victor Oladipo from the Indiana Pacers, guard Dante Exum from the Cleveland Cavaliers, forward Rodions Kurucs of the Nets, three first-round draft picks from the Nets, one unprotected 2022 first-round pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers (via the Milwaukee Bucks) and the right to swap four first-round picks with the Nets.
Guard Caris LeVert and a second-round pick will go from the Nets to the Pacers, and center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince go from Brooklyn to the Cavaliers with Cleveland sending a 2024 second-round pick to the Nets.
The first-round picks Houston received from the Nets are in 2022, 2024 and 2026. The swaps are in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027.
The trade reunites Harden with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant. They played together for three years before Harden was dealt to the Rockets just before the start of the 2012-13 season.
Harden, 31, has been upset with Houston since the departures of coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey after last season.
Harden, an eight-time All-Star, has three years, $133 million and a player option for the final season remaining on his current deal. He’s averaging 24.8 points per game — down from his career average of 25.2 — after reporting late to training camp. His assists, however, are up to 10.4 per game, compared to a career average of 6.3.
Harden has led the NBA in scoring in each of the past three seasons with averages of 30.4, 36.1 and 34.3.
The Rockets traded Russell Westbrook to Washington for John Wall in a swap of point guards just before the start of training camp. Westbrook’s one-year pairing with Harden didn’t pay off, with the Rockets losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in the second round of the playoffs.
The Nets have experienced their own recent drama with Kyrie Irving currently away from the team for personal reasons.
Oladipo, 28, is a two-time All-Star in the final season of a four-year, $84 million deal. The Pacers weren’t expected to sign him to another contract and were looking to move him prior to the trade deadline.
Oladipo is averaging 20 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals in nine games this season. He has career averages of 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 steals in 430 games (370 starts) in eight seasons with the Orlando Magic, the Thunder and the Pacers.
Exum, 25, is averaging 3.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals in six contests (three starts) this season. He is currently sidelined with a calf injury. He has career averages of 5.7 points, 2.1 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 245 games in six seasons with the Utah Jazz and Cavaliers.
The 22-year-old Kurucs is averaging 0.6 points and 0.6 rebounds in five games this season. The 22-year-old Latvian has played 115 games in three seasons with the Nets with averages of 6.5 points and 3.4 rebounds.
The Pacers landed the potent LeVert, who is averaging 18.5 points, six assists and 4.3 rebounds in 12 games.
The shakeup in Houston gives the franchise a fresh start. Less than an hour before reports of the trade erupted, Rockets big man DeMarcus Cousins blasted Harden and said he had been “disrespectful” to the franchise and causing unnecessary drama.
“Just the approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court, the disrespect started way before (Tuesday night),” Cousins said of Harden. “This isn’t something that all of the sudden happened last night, but with that being said, like I said, this is the nasty part of the business. So it is what it is.”
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