The Nets are counting on star power to make them a title contender after shipping away much of their depth in the James Harden trade, writes Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. While Brooklyn now has two former MVPs in Harden and Kevin Durant, the move came at the cost of Caris LeVert, an explosive young scorer, and Jarrett Allen, who has been outplaying starting center DeAndre Jordan all season.
Veteran big man Jeff Green, one of the leaders of the now-depleted reserve unit, doesn’t believe the deal for Harden means the team is starting over.
“It’s just one guy that we have to integrate and get acquainted with what we’re trying to accomplish and what we’re doing on the floor, and I’m pretty sure he’ll pick it up fast,” said Green, who was Harden’s teammate for part of last season in Houston. “We’re going to do what we’ve got to do to make sure he’s aware of the spots and what we’re looking for. He’s going to do what he does best. I think it will be good for us, but I don’t look at it as a restart. It’s just another juice of energy that we’re going to get from him being on the floor and being part of this team.”
There’s more news related to the trade:
- Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said the uncertain situation surrounding Kyrie Irving had nothing to do with the deal, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Marks added that Irving is excited to rejoin the team, although he didn’t say when that will happen. Marks indicated that more moves are coming, adds Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link). “Without a doubt the roster is not done, it’s not finalized,” Marks said. “We’ll continue to try and add pieces as we go through this season.” The Nets currently have three open roster spots.
- The Nets wanted to give up Taurean Prince rather than Spencer Dinwiddie for financial reasons, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Dinwiddie may miss the rest of the season after having ACL reconstruction surgery last week, so he won’t be able to contribute to a team that’s built to win a title right away. However, Brooklyn was determined to get rid of Prince’s $13MM contract for next season. Hollinger explains that the Nets are already facing potential luxury tax payments between $70MM and $80MM for 2022, and keeping Prince on the roster could have added up to $50MM to that total.
- By trading Victor Oladipo for LeVert and a second-round pick, the Pacers are able to avoid a difficult free agency decision this summer, Hollinger notes in the same story. While Oladipo is in the final year of his contract, LeVert is signed for two more years at $17.5MM in 2021/22 and $18.8MM in 2022/23. Hollinger points out that Indiana now has four starters in their 20s who are all under contract through 2023, along with T.J. Warren, whose deal expires in 2022. The Pacers were slightly over the tax line before the deal, but Hollinger adds that they can now use their full mid-level exception this summer without any tax concerns.
- The Celtics never made a serious bid for Harden, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports. “We had conversations regarding James, but not recently,” president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said on a radio show this morning. “… It was just something that we didn’t want to do … Unanimously we decided it wasn’t the time for us.”