James Harden made his season debut with his new team on Saturday night, posting a triple-double for the Brooklyn Nets in a seven-point win over the Magic just hours after the four-team trade became official.
With the terms of the deal changing on Saturday afternoon (more compensation heading toward the Pacers), let’s take a closer look at the particulars of the transaction and break down the winners and losers of the blockbuster swap across the NBA for both the present and the future.
Spencer Dinwiddie: The all-in nature move of bringing in a star like James Harden means the pressure will be on the Nets to win in the short-term. Dinwiddie suffered a torn ACL during the first week of the regular season that will sideline him for the season in what was a contract year — an unfortunate stroke of luck for him. However, the Nets giving up so many valuable secondary assets in both players (Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen) and draft compensation (four first-round picks) has severely weakened the supporting cast around Brooklyn’s new Big 3. The lack of reliable manpower will put Dinwiddie and his agent in a power position as he likely hits the open market next summer (assuming he declines a $12 million player option). The Nets will only have the taxpayer mid-level exception ($6 million) to improve the team in the offseason beyond veteran minimum contracts, so retaining a proven veteran like Dinwiddie will be paramount in improving the team’s supporting cast from this season. Look no further than Rodney Hood in Portland this past offseason for the benefits of playing for a team making a win-now push. Hood was coming off a torn Achilles injury and got a sizable raise on a multi-year deal despite returning from what many to consider a career-changing injury simply because the Blazers had no way to replace his production if he walked. Barring a title win, the Nets will find themselves in a similar spot this offseason, looking to upgrade wherever they can. Look for Dinwiddie to try to cash in off it.
Pacers: Indiana knew that the odds of a long-term future with Victor Oladipo were a long shot as the veteran guard