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Houston Rockets: Projecting the Brooklyn Nets’ draft picks to 2027

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) James Harden #13, Kevin Durant #7 (L) and Kyrie Irving #11 (C) of the Brooklyn Nets look on against the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center on February 05, 2021 in New York City. The Raptors defeated the Nets 123-117. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) James Harden #13, Kevin Durant #7 (L) and Kyrie Irving #11 (C) of the Brooklyn Nets look on against the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center on February 05, 2021 in New York City. The Raptors defeated the Nets 123-117. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets
James Harden #13, Kevin Durant #7, and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

When the Houston Rockets acquiesced to James Harden’s trade demand the NBA world whipped into a frenzy. Would the Denver Nuggets offer up Michael Porter Jr? What about all the trades that saw the Philadelphia 76ers swap Ben Simmons for Harden?

Seemingly every playoff team began to offer a young star instead of draft picks to the Rockets for James Harden. The reasoning is simple: While draft picks might turn out to be stars, stars are already stars, there’s no guesswork.

How the Brooklyn Nets landed James Harden from the Houston Rockets

In the end, the Rockets chose a different approach. They pillaged the Brooklyn Nets for every available draft asset they had. Through it all, they landed the Nets’ 2022, 2024, and 2026 first-round picks and the right to swap first-round picks in 2021, 2023, 2025, and 2027. Crucially, every pick is unprotected.

Bill Simmons has called the James Harden trade one of the worst in history. That’s not only premature, it completely ignores what the Rockets are aiming to do. Instead of trying to win the trade from Day One, an impossibility when you’re losing a player of Harden’s quality, the Rockets opted to try and win it over the course of a decade.

Can the Houston Rockets win the James Harden trade?

For the Rockets to win the trade, the Brooklyn Nets will have to fall from a Finals contender to a lottery-bound mess. If that happens the Rockets will have made out like bandits, but if it doesn’t, then maybe Bill Simmons was on to something. How many games the Brooklyn Nets win from now until 2027 will determine whether the Rockets won, lost, or broke even in the James Harden trade.

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