With a tip of the cap to the Beastie Boys (No Sleep Till Brooklyn hit song) on the title here, the Brooklyn Nets just pushed all of their chips to the center of the table. As exciting as it all sounds, I do not envy first-year head coach Steve Nash. In fact, I wonder if he is “Gnashing” his teeth? Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
So, by now I’m sure you have heard that the Nets sold their souls, I mean traded for Houston Rockets petulant child, I mean shooting guard, James Harden. The particulars are as follows:
The Nets send center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince to Cleveland, and guard Caris LeVert and forward Rodions Kurucs, as well as three first round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027) to Houston. The Rockets also receive guard Dante Exum and a 2022 first round draft pick from Cleveland (via Milwaukee), and Brooklyn acquires a 2024 second round draft pick from the Cavaliers to complete the deal.
The deal included the Indiana Pacers, but that aspect of the deal has not been made official yet. Per multiple reports, the Pacers would acquire LeVert and a future second-round pick from the Rockets in exchange for All-Star guard Victor Oladipo.
Coincidence or not, this blockbuster (or is it a cluster bomb) came down Wednesday afternoon, just a few hours after Harden lamented that his Rockets team was: “just not good enough.” As you can imagine, that didn’t exactly go over too well in his locker room. Veteran center, DeMarcus Cousins had this take: “The disrespect started way before any interview. Just the approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, his antics off the court. This isn’t something that all of a sudden happened last night. It’s a way about having business. He can feel however he wants to feel about the organization, whatever his past situation is. The other 14 guys in the locker room have done nothing to him. For us to be on the receiving end of some of the disrespectful comments and the antics, it is completely unfair to us. We showed up to work. It’s completely unfair to the rest of the guys in the locker room.” Boogie has spoken!
It also comes at a time when Brooklyn’s mercurial point guard, Kyrie Irving, is somewhere other than standing shoulder to shoulder with his teammates trying to win basketball games. He has been listed on the team’s status report as OUT – Personal Reasons. Kyrie was last seen on the court, January 5, but has since popped up in a viral video from his sister’s birthday party (maskless), and on an “organizing program launch” virtual zoom call for Manhattan District Attorney candidate Tahani Aboushi. Neither of which appearances would seem to fall under the auspices of his contract, which pays him $33,460,350 ANNUALLY! As of this writing, Kyrie was just fined $50,000 and he will forfeit over $800,000 in salary. After attending the indoor birthday party. Team general manager, Sean Marks tried to clarify the KI situation in the below text:
— SNY (@SNYtv) January 14, 2021
Back to the blockbuster… The way to win championships in the NBA these days is to stockpile stars. If you have none or God for bid only one, thanks for playing, but you have no chance. To begin the season, Brooklyn had two showstoppers in Irving, and the great Kevin Durant (he truly is a treat to watch). That however, is obviously not enough in their eyes to best Lebron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers, because this move is clearly about winning a CHAMPIONSHIP.
Photo: LATF USA
So, just like that the suddenly large and lethargic lefty is now in the fold. Good for him, he got what he wanted by flat out napalming the Rockets. But in the long run is it good for the Nets? Well, on paper they are not only the best team in the Eastern Conference, but perhaps the entire league. As we know however, games are not played on paper. Heck, their is no denying how good each of the big three are individually, but basketball is not an individual sport and they will have to coexist on the court.
Irving and Harden are both ball dominant players though. Each used to pounding the rock on the deck for much of the shot clock before doing their thing. They are accustomed to being “thee guy” on pretty much every team they’ve ever played on. Watching Houston Rockets games these past few years has been hard to do. Many of their offensive possessions consisted of Harden, back turned to the basket, dribbling and dribbling and dribbling, before either shooting a three point shot or driving to the basket and getting fouled. His teammates might just as well have purchased tickets to watch him play because they were most often options three, four or five.
Photo: Houston Chronicle
It was effective for Harden, though, he has been scoring at will (leading the league in points per game the last three seasons – with an average of 34 points per game). And speaking of getting fouled, did you know that over the last 11 years, Harden has led the NBA in free throws attempted per game seven times (including the last six seasons), while KD has done it twice. Are you getting the idea that the newest Net likes to have the ball in his hands? Yes, but so does Kyrie, and Kevin (who, for my money trumps them both).
Last time I checked, league rules prohibit there being more than one basketball on the court at any time. So, how will “coach” Nash make sure the big three get enough touches, and will they buy into this dynamic new dynamic? Or will their feelings get hurt if/when things don’t go exactly as they want (see Kyrie in Cleveland and Boston)? Most importantly, will they GUARD anyone? All anyone wants to talk about is scoring and who will do the lions share of it, but none of these guys are noted defenders to begin with, so is anything going to change now that their season can be summed up in three words – championship or bust?
And that my friends is My Two Sense for the first time in a LONG time. I’d like to wish you and yours a happy new year, and I hope that 2021 is a home run for us all!
Feature Photo: ClutchPoints