The long-awaited blockbuster trade by the entire NBA microcosm finally took place early in the evening yesterday. James Harden will be leaving the Rockets to join Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn. However, different scenarios were also on the table of Texas leaders until last hours before the conclusion of this deal and the future of the Bearded Man could have taken many other more or less eccentric directions.
The love story between James Harden and the Rockets, which began in 2013, has been turning more and more sour in recent weeks. The situation had reached a point of no return following the last matches, played in tap socks by a player who no longer hid his discomfort (and his overweight) and chained the shattering and disrespectful statements to his team. The matter is now settled. With the four-team trade mounted in recent hours, Houston gets rid of the one that was becoming a weight in every sense of the word and recovers from the pick galore, a Victor Oladipo in the last year of his contract as well as Dante Exum and Rodions Kurucs . If we imagine an exchange of the kind very difficult to mount, we know it even more in this case of figure since much information was leaked on the very specific desires of the Texans in exchange for The Beard, the GM Rafael Stone not being ready to become the new laughing stock of the NBA. Indeed, as revealed by Tim MacMahon ofESPN in the last few hours, The Rockets wouldn’t have wanted Kyrie Irving to be part of the final package. Desire for further reconstruction or simple fear concerning a player who is sometimes difficult to pin down and is still struggling today? Difficult to know. Still, Stone did not want to make it easier for his mentor Daryl Morey, now GM of the Sixers. For good reason, the Rockets could also have recovered Ben Simmons, a major piece of the Philly offer, but the discussions between the two camps began to slow down when the names of Matisse Thybulle and especially the rookie Tyrese Maxey were mentioned., probably accompanied by picks if they joined the deal. In any case, this is the scenario evoked by NBC Sports when debriefing the other possibilities offered to the Rockets. Seeing him stay in Houston for a while would also have been possible but really as a last resort given the enormous tensions that have arisen in recent times.
Courted directly or indirectly by almost all NBA teams, James Harden was at the heart of a final battle between the Nets and the Sixers. Houston had very specific demands and didn’t seem to want to buy the services of just anyone in exchange. Their refusal to bring Irving into the negotiations may not have changed anything, Brooklyn may not want to part with its leader so quickly, but it is impossible to assure. The same goes for the Sixers’ offer including Simmons and ultimately refused because it was considered insufficient in Texas. If it is ultimately the Nets who won the bet and offered the third play of their big three, we can imagine that the future of Harden could have followed many other roads. First, Chris Haynes from Yahoo! Sports confirms that Portland was indeed one of the favorite potential destinations of the MVP 2018, surely to recall good memories with Melo (or not). But given the great start of C.J. McCollum this season and team dynamics, such a trade was not necessarily the best option for the Blazers. We also know that some franchises can not help but take an interest in these trades that can change the face of a team. For example, it is difficult if not impossible not to imagine les Knicks, always the first on the starting line and the last to arrive, having tried it. We heard about them at the beginning but things did not go any further. However, we would see a package including potential MVP Julius Randle, Frenchman Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox (both constantly involved in rumors for almost two years), 35 Draft picks and of course the move of Spike Lee. from Madison Square Garden to Toyota Center, be offered five times a day to the Rockets GM by email and fax. The same for a team like the Kings, never the last when it comes to offering us action. Trying to bring Harden to Sacramento would have got rid of Marvin Bagley III and his overly talkative daron, sending Tyrese Haliburton, rookie proving to be too good a choice for now (this is rare in Sacto) and 45 Draft picks in H-Town. Unfortunately, we will not have had the right to these exchanges from elsewhere, or else no one will have succeeded in extracting the information from the players in the file, and that is a pity. We would have liked to laugh a little more even if the brand new trio of stars formed by Harden and his two companions at the Nets will probably keep us busy in the coming months.
James Harden joined the Nets in a big trade involving four teams but his future could have been written in many other ways if the Rockets had changed their expectations slightly or had not imposed certain prerequisites for a departure from the Bearded. It is the strip clubs in Texas who must be crying these last hours and their colleagues in New York who had to cut the champagne when the news broke!
Text source: ESPN.com and NBCSports.com