It’s no secret that the Houston Rockets are rooting for the Brooklyn Nets' demise. When the Rockets traded James Harden to Brooklyn for a historic draft haul of three first-round picks and four first-round pick swaps, all unprotected, it was clear what their thinking was.
Sure, a trio of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving would be a threat to win multiple championships, but eventually, they’d age out of being productive players and still be paid like superstars. When that moment hit, likely around 2025, the Rockets’ patience would be rewarded handsomely.
In the 18 months since the trade, just about everything has gone wrong in Brooklyn. The Nets failed to make it out of the second round of the playoffs, Harden demanded a trade a year after arriving in Brooklyn and was shipped to Philadelphia, Irving decided to put his “principals” above the team when it came to a covid vaccination and then assumed a lucrative no strings attached contract would follow, and finally, Durant demanded a trade of us own. The combustion of the Brooklyn Nets was as spontaneous as it is hilarious, and all of it has been music to Rockets fans' ears.
However, as the James Harden trade taught Rockets fans when a superstar is moved, it doesn’t come cheap. Some trades set the Nets up to be competitive for years to come, and others could see them bottom out and provide the Rockets with highly valuable draft picks. These are the best and worst places for the Nets to trade Kevin Durant for the Rockets.
The worst place for the Nets to trade Kevin Durant for the Rockets: Boston Celtics
If the Nets trade Kevin Durant to the Boston Celtics, there is an incredibly high likelihood that Jaylen Brown will be a Brooklyn Net. Brown is the worst type of player for the Rockets. He’s young and in the early stages of his prime. The final Nets pick headed to Houston comes after the 2026-27 season. Those years cover Brown’s age 26 through 30 seasons, otherwise known as his prime.
Factor in the presence of Ben Simmons, and the Nets should be a solid team over the remaining years they owe the Rockets picks and swaps. Brooklyn is unlikely to compete for a championship with that core, but they shouldn’t be an abject disaster either. Also, while Simmons and Brown aren’t a championship tandem, the addition of a superstar, which New York is known to attract, could push them right back into contention.
The best place for the Nets to trade Kevin Durant for the Rockets: New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans may seem like an odd choice, but there is a very specific reason why Rockets fans should be rooting for them to go all in for Durant. Brandon Ingram is the most likely centerpiece in any Durant trade, and a quirk of the collective bargaining agreement would prevent the Nets from being able to have both Simmons and Ingram on the roster. In the event that a trade occurs, it means Simmons will be shipped out, and Ingram will be the lone star in Brooklyn.
New Orleans also has a plethora of external picks from the Lakers and Bucks they can send to the Nets as well. With Durant, Simmons, and likely Kyrie Irving all being traded, the Nets will suddenly go from draft poor to draft rich. While it may sting to watch their picks head to Houston, they’ll have plenty of draft equity to rebuild slowly around Ingram.
The Nets have no incentive to be bad, but if they control other teams’ picks, they also have very little incentive to try and be good. Brandon Ingram is a good young player, but his presence isn’t going to pull them out of the bottom third of the league on his own. The Rockets are hoping the Nets will bottom out, not tread water. A deal with the Pelicans and the ripple effects it will have gives the Nets the foundation for a real rebuild and presents the Rockets with their best chance of multiple lottery picks.