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The Unintentional Catalyst Of The Houston Rockets

At the start of the 2020-2021 season, extreme tension occurred between James Harden and the Houston Rockets. He wanted no part of the team after losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the NBA playoffs. Gone was Coach Mike D’Antoni and General Manager Daryl Morey to work elsewhere. Harden saw the writing on the wall and requested a trade. 

Soon after, on January 14th, 2021, the Rockets traded Harden to the Brooklyn Nets in a three team deal that gave the Rockets four first round pick swaps and a 2022 first round draft pick. This trade was considered great for the Brooklyn Nets, as they were predicted to run away with the playoffs. They had three elite scorers in Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden. What could go wrong?

Well, it’s the 2022 offseason, and the Nets haven’t made it past the second round. 

Let’s explain why:

Injuries to Irving and Harden impacted the team in the 2021 playoffs. Durant carried the team and took the Milwaukee Bucks to seven games, but that was all she wrote. In the next season, more issues emerged. Kyrie refused to get vaccinated which prevented him from playing. Kevin Durant was out for a third of the season with an MCL sprain. Harden constantly had trouble with hamstring issues and was never the same elite player he used to be. In the end, the trio never worked. In February 2022, Harden requested a trade and ended being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. 

The Nets did get All-Star Ben Simmons in return, but he didn’t play a single game with his new team because of——-you guessed it, injuries.

The Collapse

Luckily, Durant and Kyrie were able to be on the court in the first round. Unfortunately, they were swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics. 

In this offseason, more turmoil has amassed the team. Durant he has requested a trade. The Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, and Portland Trailblazers seem to be potential suitors. Endless buzz is also circling around Kyrie Irving getting traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Besides Ben Simmons being NBA ready post back surgery, this isn’t a good look for the Brooklyn Nets. Their hopes of building a big three and taking over the league have completely backfired. 

What this means for the Houston Rockets

Back in 2021, nobody had envisioned the Brooklyn Nets to fall apart like this. On the other hand, it benefits the Rockets in a huge way. The draft picks they received from the Nets have great potential to be the building blocks for their future. 

Right now, it is very unlikely the Nets will make a championship run. It is more likely that they miss the playoffs if both Kyrie and Durant leave the team. The farther they fall in the Eastern Conference, the higher chance the draft picks will be in the top 10. 

Houston already has Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, and Kevin Porter Jr. on their roster. If these draft picks they got from the Nets fall in the top 10, they could either trade them for NBA stars, or build their team from the ground up. Brooklyn’s struggles can make the Rockets a force in the league for years to come. It turns out the best way for Daryl Morey to really help the Rockets was to leave town.

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