The past week has been a whirlwind for fans of both the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets. Only a few days ago, Kyrie Irving and the Nets were engaged in a high-stakes game of chicken where Irving used the threat of declining his player option to try and force a move. The Nets didn’t flinch, Irving opted in, and everything seemed settled as Irving gifted us, mere mortals, with a statement of epic deepness.
"“Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow. I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall. A11even.” "- Kyrie Irving
Things in Brooklyn, at least for a year, seemed to be settling down. Then, the bombshell of all bombshells dropped.
Kevin Durant asking for a trade has lit the NBA world on fire, and it is music to Rockets fans' ears.
When the Rockets traded James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, they eschewed offers with better players for the offer with the best picks. The Nets gave the Rockets their draft, unprotected, for seven consecutive years. The trade was a gamble by the Rockets, but if it were to pay off, it could be one of the best superstar trades in history.
Suggesting Rafael Stone and the Rockets’ front office expected things to go south in Brooklyn so quickly would be suggesting that Stone is clairvoyant. The trade looked at the age of Brooklyn’s big-3 and thought that by 2025 they might be old and out of contention. No one thought that after 12 months, Harden would be demanding a trade from Brooklyn, and six months after that, both Durant and Irving would be angling for moves.
The Brooklyn Nets are imploding, but that doesn’t mean they’ll hit rock bottom. They still have Ben Simmons and a host of solid rotation pieces. They’ll get a haul akin to what the Rockets received for Harden for Durant, and Irving, while not at peak value, will command an impressive return.
Rockets fans have been waiting for this day for ages, but it is still too soon to celebrate. If the Nets trade Durant to Boston for Jaylen Brown and picks, and Irving is moved for another quality player, the Nets won’t be a title contender, but they’ll be a playoff contender with a much longer window.
There’s a real chance that Durant and Irving leaving now, while they still have maximum value, actually hurts the value of those 2025 through 2027 picks. It all depends on what they receive in return, but the Nets are unlikely to completely bottom out.
At the end of the day, the Rockets will get more value from the front-end of the James Harden trade than they could have ever expected. It might limit the back-end value, but overall, they’ll probably end up very happy with the return. The Nets are imploding, but they haven’t bottomed out, at least, not yet.