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James Harden - Houston Rockets - Royce O'Neale - Utah Jazz
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What Harden Trade Means For Jazz

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots over Royce O'Neale #23 of the Utah Jazz during a game at Vivint Smart Home Arena on February 22, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Houston Rockets completed a series of major trades that will send longtime franchise cornerstone James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets.

The first trade sends Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for the Nets 2022, 2024, and 2026 unprotected first-round picks, the ability to swap four future first-round picks, and a 2022 pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Nets will send Caris Lavert to Houston, who will be redirected to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for guard Victor Oladipo. Nets center Jarrett Allen and wing Taurean Prince are being shipped to Cleveland as part of the deal, while former Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum and Nets wing Rodions Kurucs are headed to Houston.

The deal provides the Nets with added star power alongside Kevin Durant as the franchise tries to resolve the ongoing off the court issues with guard Kyrie Irving.

The Rockets meanwhile clear their future salary cap problems by moving Harden in exchange for expiring contracts, while adding a collection of draft picks in the move.

The Pacers get talent in exchange for the expiring Oladipo, while the Cavaliers add two strong rotational pieces to their developing roster.

What Harden Trade Means For The Utah Jazz

The Jazz should look at this trade as a win for their hopes of progressing through the Western Conference playoffs. Though the Rockets were clearly struggling this season, entering today with the second-worst record in the West, it’s not difficult to imagine a mid-season push to make the postseason.

The Jazz have struggled to contain Harden in the playoffs in recent years, and will no longer face that struggle.

Furthermore, the Rockets failed to get any immediate help back in the trade, as they mostly took on expiring contracts and future draft compensation. While Oladipo is a recent All-Star, he’s still in the process of returning from a serious knee injury, and may not be a part of the Rockets’ long-term plans.

Houston will have the salary cap room to spend this coming offseason and could be a destination for a high-priced free-agent, but Tillman Fertita’s tumultuous run as the Rockets owner could scare players away.

Ultimately, Houston likely traded their way out of the top half of the Western Conference standings by trading away their perennial MVP candidate. That’s good news for the Jazz who are looking to carve out their spot as one of the league’s elite teams.

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