Did Brooklyn Nets’ Loss to Cavaliers Expose the Issues Created by the James Harden Trade?

Published 01/21/2021, 5:56 AM EST
Jan 18, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets shooting guard James Harden (13) and power forward Kevin Durant (7) high five during the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Barclays Center. The Nets defeated the Bucks 125-123. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports


During the 2020 offseason, James Harden made it clear that he wanted to leave the Houston Rockets. He was eager to go to the Brooklyn Nets, where he could reunite with Kevin Durant and also team up with Kyrie Irving.

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The Rockets were hesitant initially and delayed the trade for over a month, but eventually gave in a week ago. So the trio of Durant, Harden, and Irving was finally put together. Following the trade, the Nets were immediately termed as favorites to win it all.

But last night, when they played their first game together, they had the most unexpected result. The lowly Cavaliers, who were ranked as the worst offense in the league, took them to OT before beating them 147-135. This exposed two glaring problems for the Nets, which could potentially affect their championship dreams.

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Jan 20, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (2) drives against Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) in the second overtime at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets don’t have depth anymore

While they acquired Harden, the Nets lost four players who played an important role in their rotation. Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Rodions Kurucs, and Taurean Prince were all traded away to make up for Harden’s enormous contract. This has killed their big man rotation especially since they now have to rotate between DeAndre Jordan, Jeff Green, rookie Reggie Perry, and KD himself.

Jan 20, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen (31) reaches for a rebound against the Brooklyn Nets in the first overtime at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

So now they have to look at free agents and fill out their roster spots. Some options they have are Ersan Ilyasova, John Henson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Noah Vonleh, and Tyson Chandler. Only Ilyasova is a solid option, but the rest don’t have a team for a reason. But the Nets don’t have much of a choice.

The Nets are weak defensively

The Nets have managed to create an offensive juggernaut with this trio. But this has also left them weak defensively. The initial thought was they could just outscore anyone. But last night they were unable to outscore Colin Sexton and the worst offense in the league. So they need to trade for some help defensively because all of their guards and wings are offensive-oriented.

Jan 20, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash reacts in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets’ paint defense is also weak. A matchup against the 76ers could be brutal for them since they don’t have anyone who can come close to stopping a player like Joel Embiid.

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Coach Steve Nash will need to figure things out as the trade deadline approaches, on how to make the team strong on both ends.

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Aaron Mathew

1537 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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