James Harden is heading to Brooklyn, joining old teammate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to give the Nets a potent trio featuring some of the NBA’s highest scorers.
The Nets acquired the three-time scoring champion from the Houston Rockets in a deal that became official on Thursday, a move Harden has sought for weeks.
Harden is the centerpiece of a deal that also involved Cleveland and grew to a fourth team when Indiana, made a separate deal with Houston.
The Nets will be able to trot out a lineup of three players capable of scoring 25 or more points on any night in a collection of firepower to rival any Big Three in recent years.
“It’s an amazing move for Brooklyn. Obviously, they got better — way better,” said two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee.
But they paid a massive price to do it. The Nets sent Caris LeVert and Rodions Kurucs to Houston, along with 2022, 2024 and 2026 first-round picks and the right to swap first-round picks in 2021, 2023, 202 and 2027.
The Nets also sent center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince to Cleveland.
The Rockets also are trading LeVert to Indiana for Oladipo, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
The Nets are loading up for a title run with three of the highest-paid players in the league. All are under contract through 2022-23, with Harden and Durant both set to earn more than $40 million in each of the next two seasons.
In the meantime, the Nets were short-handed for their game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, where coach Steve Nash declined to discuss Harden but did confirm that the players the Nets were trading were not in the building during their 116-109 victory.
Off to a 7-6 start in his rookie season as coach, now the former point guard and two-time NBA MVP will have to mold an offense that keeps the ball moving with three players worthy of having it in their hands.
“It’s a simple game but it becomes complicated when you put different personalities and players on the floor,” Nash said. “Our group’s done a really good job being unselfish this year and trying to move the ball and work together, so I’ve been proud of that.”
The blockbuster deal provides a needed boost amid a period of drama for both franchises. It was struck less than 24 hours after Harden seemed to deliver a farewell address of sorts following the Rockets’ loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, and just before Irving was set to miss a fifth straight game during a personal absence from the Nets.