The Brooklyn Nets confirmed the arrival of James Harden on Thursday, saying the signing of the disgruntled Houston Rockets star would help the team challenge at the highest level of the NBA.
Harden’s move to Brooklyn, widely reported in US media on Wednesday, will see the Nets offload center Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to Cleveland while guard Caris LeVert and Rodions Kurucs head to Houston.
The Rockets will also receive three first round draft picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026 as well as four first round pick swaps.
Harden’s move unfolded at breakneck speed on Wednesday less than 24 hours after his deep unhappiness with the Rockets exploded into public view.
“The fact that everything went kind of went down the way that it did was a surprise,” acknowledged the Rockets first-year coach Stephen Silas.
“Now it’s up to me to regroup, reset and move forward. It was a crazy 48 hours for sure, but we’re out of it.”
Harden’s arrival in Brooklyn alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving gives the Eastern Conference a potential superteam to challenge the dominant Milwaukee Bucks.
“Adding an All-NBA player such as James to our roster better positions our team to compete against the league’s best,” Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said in a statement.
“James is one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in our game, and we are thrilled to bring his special talents to Brooklyn.”
Harden, named NBA Most Valuable Player in 2018, has been named an All-Star for eight straight seasons since 2013.
He was the league’s top-scorer for three years running between 2018 and 2020 and has registered 25.2 points from 841 regular season games in 12 seasons.
The Nets have never won an NBA Championship since being absorbed into the league as part of the merger with the now-defunct American Basketball Association in 1976.
The team suffered back-to-back losses in the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003 as the New Jersey Nets, but has not reached the championship round since.
Harden’s exit from Houston became a near-certainty after he lashed out at the team in comments on Tuesday following a blow-out home defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers, claiming the team was “just not good enough.”
“I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can,” Harden said. “I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”
Silas then ordered Harden to stay away from the team’s practice facility on Wednesday as a slew of team-mates condemned the 31-year-old’s remarks.
“He can feel however he wants to feel with the organization but the other 14 guys in the locker room have done nothing to him,” the Rockets’ DeMarcus Cousins said on Wednesday.
“So for us to be on the receiving end of some of the disrespectful comments and antics, it’s completely unfair to us.”
On Thursday, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta paid tribute to Harden’s contribution to the franchise.
“On behalf of the entire Rockets organisation and the city of Houston, I’d like to thank James Harden for an amazing eight-plus seasons in a Rockets uniform,” Fertitta said.
“We wish James the best of luck and will always be grateful for the memories.”