Trade no. 3: Brooklyn Nets & New Orleans Pelicans
If the Brooklyn Nets want James Harden and Kyrie Irving on the same team then they’ll have to get creative to secure a deal. The Pelicans could come in and provide the Rockets with the sweeteners that they want while also providing a landing spot for salary to make a deal work.
The Nets will have to send Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, and a few future first-round picks to the Rockets and Caris Lavert to the Pelicans. The Pelicans would then send the Bucks’ first-round picks, from the Jrue Holiday trade to the Rockets. Houston would only send Harden to the Nets and in the process net themselves a massive return of talent and assets.
The Bucks’ future first-round picks are lottery tickets that have the potential to be incredibly valuable. If Giannis Antetokounmpo resigns with the Bucks then the picks will be towards the end of the first round, but if he doesn’t then the picks have the potential to be much more valuable.
The Pelicans might want to hold onto them and might instead include some of their own picks but either way, this deal should net the Rockets four to five first-round picks. The incoming NBA talent for the Rockets would give them one of the league’s deepest rosters filled with a ton of valuable and movable contracts.
This trade lands Brooklyn the third star they’ve been looking for in Harden and gives them the greatest offensive trio in recent memory. Kevin Durant, Irving, and Harden can all create shots for themselves and others and should give the Nets the inside track on making it out of the Eastern Conference.
New Orleans for their troubles and their picks get Caris LeVert who fits their competitive timeline and will help offset the loss of Jrue Holiday. LeVert is a quality combo-guard whose ability to create shots for himself and others should help the Pelicans make a run at the postseason.
The Rockets might be losing their franchise icon but they’ll maintain a legitimate starting five with a chance to have one of the best bench units in the league. A starting lineup of John Wall, Dinwiddie, Danuel House, Christian Wood, and Jarrett Allen would remain competitive and give way to a bench unit led by Harris, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Gordon, and Ben McLemore.
Dinwiddie has the ability to be a lead option, although not one of the league’s best, Allen is a very intriguing young player, and Joe Harris is a career 42.4-percent 3-point shooter. The Rockets won’t be a better team but they will be strong enough top to bottom that they should remain in the playoff mix.
Harris’s contract is for four years and $72 million which will make moving him more difficult but in a world where Davis Bertans fetches $80 million over five-years and Danilo Gallinari signs for three-years and $61.4 million his contract is far from an albatross. The real coup is Jarrett Allen who projects as a very good pick and roll rim runner.
Allen just averaged 11.1 points and 9.6 rebounds a game on 64.9-percent shooting from the field. At 22-years-old and under contract for one more season at $3.9 million the Rockets will have to decide on his future quickly but it appears to be a bright one.
His game has some overlap with Christian Wood, but because of Wood’s ability to shoot from beyond the arc the two should be able to coexist on offense, and their pairing on defense could be fantastic. Allen is a true rim protector which is the biggest question mark surrounding Wood’s defense.
The Rockets could trot out a lineup with two 6’11 players and not lose their ability to defend the perimeter while absolutely owning the paint. The Rockets would look like a very different team in that case but it’d help solve two of their biggest issues from last season, defending the paint and rebounding the basketball.
However, the real value of this deal is that the Rockets will have players that can be easily moved for future assets, and with Harden out of Houston a rebuild could be on the horizon. Dinwiddie is owed $11.4 million this season before a $12.3 million player option, which means he’d be a valuable trade chip to any contender in need of some scoring punch and Harris is an elite 3-point shooter which is always in high demand.
The Rockets won’t get a marque prospect in this return but they’ll get good NBA veterans, draft picks, and a young player who can be elite in a specific role. This wouldn’t be my first choice if I were the Rockets but it could be the best deal available in an increasingly tense situation.
Next: Trade no. 2