Sports Report: Did the Nets Win the Trade?

Media provided by Managing Editor, Naaz Valvani ’22.

On Thursday, Feb. 10, the Brooklyn Nets, and Philadelphia 76ers completed a blockbuster trade, with each team giving and receiving valuable assets. 

The Brooklyn Nets gave up their recently acquired star, James Harden, who has only played for the Nets for 13 months, and Paul Millsap, a four-time All-Star. Harden had allegedly been pushing for a trade after feeling unsatisfied with the Nets organization and playing style. After nine years on the Houston Rockets, where Harden racked up impressive accolades, he didn’t like playing as the second option to Durant. 

Jake Fischer, avid reporter of the NBA and writer for the Bleacher Report, noted that “Harden would roll his eyes when an after-timeout play was designed for Durant.” He also noted that, “Harden preferred his patented iso-ball,” trying to take down his defender one-on-one rather than including his teammates. 

As an organization, the Brooklyn Nets have a terrible trade history. In 2013, the Nets traded for nearly retired Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry from the Celtics, giving up six players and draft picks and missing out on All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. 

When undergoing the trade for James Harden, the Nets once again made some questionable moves. Brooklyn’s front office gave up three future first-round picks, four first-round pick swaps, and four players. Among these, the Nets dismissed the potential of Caris Levert, who is playing the best basketball of his career, and Jarrett Allen, who was named an All-Star this season. People were questioning whether this trade would emulate the Celtics trade from years prior and it seems that it has. 

When the Nets’ trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden was assembled in 2021, the question wasn’t if they would win a championship, but how many. Yet, after not even a full season, riddled with injury and sitting out, the team was dismantled. 

Harden seemed to believe that joining a superteam was an easy way to a championship, but when he realized they had long ways to go, he was ready to give up. Harden left Houston for a similar reason, as he was tired of carrying the team just to lose early in the playoffs. Harden quit the Brooklyn Nets before he could even give it a good shot. 

On Feb. 10, Harden was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, after weeks of rumors about Harden’s departure ensued. In return for James Harden and Paul Millsap, the Nets received three-time All-Star Ben Simmons, one of the best shooters in the NBA, Seth Curry, the most dominant rebounder, Andre Drummond, two-time All-Star, and two future first-round picks. 

Simmons hasn’t played a game for the Sixers this season due to problems with their organization, particularly after last season’s playoff run. During the second round of the playoffs, in a heated series with the Atlanta Hawks, Simmons played some of the worst basketball of his career, when it mattered the most. Philadelphians and NBA fans from all over the world blamed Simmons when the Sixers fell just short in game seven of the series, scapegoating Simmons as the root of the team’s loss. Naturally, Simmons didn’t like being hated by his own supposed fans and tried to get himself traded from Philly. When Simmons was denied a trade in last year’s off-season, he refused to play altogether, leading him to sit out the entire season thus far. At the heart of the trade, the Sixers and Nets gave up one dysfunctional player for another. 

However, the supporting cast in this trade makes it an even bigger one. In addition to Simmons’s entry, the Nets received Seth Curry and Andre Drummond, two of the best role players in the league. Seth Curry is one of the best three-point shooters in the league and has proved to work perfectly in the Nets offensive plays in his initial few games. Andre Drummond plays an equally but very different role as one of the league’s premier big men. 

Also important is the addition of Goran Dragíc, signing with the Nets after being bought out by the Toronto Raptors, the closest thing to a true Point Guard on the Nets roster– while requesting waivers on guard Jevon Carter. Nash recently noted that Dragíc will “add experience, IQ, skill, toughness.”

Fans of both teams claim that their team won the trade, but in reality, the trade was amazing for both sides. The Nets got rid of a player who didn’t want to play, and Millsap, who has relatively low trade value, in exchange for a young All-Star and premier defender, Ben Simmons, an incredible sharpshooting Curry, and a rebounder in Drummond.The Sixers gave up a player who hadn’t played for them all season, some quality role players, and some picks, for one of the best players in the NBA, and moreover, a serious contender for MVP last season. 

Thus, both teams won in the end and received players that will propel them forward. When Durant, Simmons, Irving, Curry, and Drummond play together, the sky’s the limit for what the Nets can achieve. Harden and Joel Embiid have proved a lethal duo after winning the three games they’ve played together. But will Harden last in Philly? Will the Nets be successful? Only time will tell, but as a diehard Nets fan, I will be paying very close attention.