Winner: James Harden
Disagree with his tactics all you like, but James Harden got what he wanted. He’s on his way to Brooklyn to play with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on what becomes the presumptive Eastern Conference favorite. Brooklyn was Harden’s first reported preferred destination, so it’s not likely that he regrets the way he handled the beginning of the season in Houston. It’s going to be intriguing to see how Harden adapts his offensive style to fit in with Durant, Irving and the Nets, but with three of the best scorers in the league on one team, the Nets will be a must-watch for the foreseeable future.
Winner: Brooklyn Nets
The Nets now have three top-20 players on the same roster, which makes them even more of a title contender than they already were. It’s really as simple as that. The depth took a hit, but Steve Nash will tinker with the rotations to make something work, and as our James Herbert detailed, the front office still has options to improve the roster. If the Nets stay healthy, they could have the best offense in the history of the NBA (that sounds hyperbolic, but the Dallas Mavericks did it last season with much less star power). According to SportsLine, Brooklyn’s chances of winning the 2020-21 title nearly doubled by acquiring Harden. That makes you a winner every day of the week.
Loser: City of Houston
Houston fans have been delighted by one of the most forward-thinking, successful franchises in the NBA since Harden arrived before the 2012-13 season. The Rockets should still be competitive, but the days of the 55-plus-win seasons are likely in the rear-view mirror for a while. Depending on how the front office proceeds, the Rockets could even have a full rebuild on their hands in a few seasons. Houston fans loyally embraced their franchise as they drew the ire of many around the world, so it’s a shame to see their moment in the spotlight potentially coming to an end.