Just over a year ago, James Harden finally forced his way out of Houston in a three-team trade between the Rockets, Brooklyn Nets, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Full details of the trade are as follows:
- Rockets Receive: Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, Dante Exum, 2022, 2024, 2026 First-Round Picks via Nets, 2021, 2023, 2025, 2027 First-Round Pick Swaps via Nets, 2022 First-Round Pick from Cavaliers
- Nets Receive: James Harden, 2024 Second-Round Pick from Cavaliers
- Cavaliers Receive: Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, Rights to Aleksandar Vezenkov
Two days later, the trade would be expanded to include the Indiana Pacers.
Indiana acquired LeVert and two future second-round picks from Houston in exchange for Victor Oladipo.
TRADE DETAILS (still developing):
4 1st-round picks
4 pick swaps
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) January 13, 2021
Fast forward to the present day, and LeVert is once again on the move.
This time heading to Cleveland along with a 2022 second-round pick in exchange for Ricky Rubio, a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick, and two future second-round picks.
With this latest deal, the Cavaliers level of play this year, and Brooklyn’s slide, is it possible the Cavs won the Harden trade?
Cavaliers The True Winners?
After the LeVert trade, here is a full view of what the Cavaliers acquired and gave up from the Harden and LeVert trades.
- Traded Away: Dante Exum, Ricky Rubio, 2022 Lottery-Protected First-Round Pick, 2022 First-Round Pick (via Milwaukee), 2022 Second-Round Pick (via Houston), 2024 Second-Round Pick, 2027 Second-Round Pick (via Utah)
- Acquired: Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, Caris LeVert, Rights to Aleksandar Vezenkov, 2022 Second-Round Pick (via Miami)
Technically, Rubio and Prince could be on both lists.
Rubio was acquired by the Cavs over the offseason for Prince and a 2022 second-round pick.
Rubio was a marvelous addition to this Cleveland team before going down for the year with a torn ACL.
He appeared in 34 games, making eight starts while averaging 13.1 points and 6.6 assists per game.
The 31-year-old Spaniard was an excellent backup to Darius Garland and provided valuable veteran leadership.
With that said, the big pieces for the Cavaliers end up being Allen and LeVert.
Somehow being able to re-route Allen to Cleveland in the Harden trade was a masterful move by GM Koby Altman.
Jan. 13, 2021 was always expected to shift the Eastern Conference landscape. It has. Just not for the Brooklyn Nets, who acquired James Harden that day. For the #Cavs, who ended up acquiring Jarrett Allen and now Caris LeVert as a result. https://t.co/z3rDDrRr0y
— Chris Fedor (@ChrisFedor) February 7, 2022
Allen received All-Star consideration for his play this year.
The 23-year-old center is averaging 16.2 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game while anchoring the Cavaliers’ defense.
In LeVert, Cleveland acquires a scoring wing to complement Garland.
Though not the most efficient scorer, LeVert can create looks for himself and his teammates.
Assuming LeVert will sign an extension this offseason, both players are set to be with the team for the foreseeable future.
And the fact both were brought in without trading Collin Sexton or Isaac Okoro is sensational work by the front office.
Cleveland sits fourth in the Eastern Conference with a roster full of young talent.
Grading The Rest
With Cleveland’s grade out of the way, now we must look at the remaining teams involved.
It is too early to decide on Houston.
Their return was pick-heavy and results probably will not be in until 2025-26.
However, trading away a superstar and not walking away with the best young player in the deal (Allen) is not a strong start.
Brooklyn, meanwhile, was seemingly in a great position after the trade.
Harden completed the Nets’ three-headed monster along with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Those three were set to terrorize opposing defenses and bring multiple rings to Brooklyn.
Instead, injuries to both Irving and Harden led to a second-round exit for the Nets in last year’s playoffs.
And a potentially disgruntled Harden may now be looking to move on from his new team.
Harden allegedly is not happy with how he has been utilized in Brooklyn.
James Harden is reportedly 'frustrated in general' with the Nets and doesn't like having a 'similar role' to what he had in Houston https://t.co/G8csejOs0g
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) February 5, 2022
And he may be frustrated with Irving only being available part-time due to being unvaccinated.
If traded, Harden will assuredly bring back a sizable package.
Most likely one centered around Ben Simmons.
Until that happens, Brooklyn is in a downward spiral.
They are 29-24, having lost eight straight games, and sit in seventh in the Eastern Conference.
While they got the superstar in return, Brooklyn does not appear to be the winner in that trade.
That distinction belongs to the Cavaliers.NEXT: Darius Garland Needs To Be An All-Star