For months, the NBA world asked, “What is James Harden worth?” On Wednesday, we found out: The Brooklyn Nets believe Harden is worth three first-round draft picks, four draft pick swaps, and Caris LeVert. And oddsmakers believe Harden is worth a 300-point bump in NBA Championship odds.
“We’re just not good enough . . . I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can,” Harden said on Tuesday night after the Houston Rockets’ second straight blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. “I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”
Sixteen hours later, Harden was shipped to Brooklyn, ending months of speculation and reports of Harden’s unhappiness with an organization for whom he played more than 600 games over nine years. In departing the Western Conference for the first time in his career, Harden shifted the entire landscape of the 2020-21 NBA season.
As Harden was commenting on the shattered relationship with the Rockets, the Nets were on their way to beating the Denver Nuggets to snap a two-game losing streak. Even with the win behind another strong game from Kevin Durant, they were 6-6 on the season, buried in the early Eastern Conference playoff picture, and facing a potential lengthy absence of Kyrie Irving.
“As the NBA is reviewing videos circulating on social media of a maskless Kyrie Irving at what appears to be a family birthday party, there is no belief the Brooklyn Nets guard will return to the team's lineup this week,” ESPN Malika Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday. “Irving was already ruled out for the fourth straight game Tuesday night against Denver, and sources said that, at a minimum, he is expected to miss Wednesday's game against New York and Saturday's against Orlando.”
Prior to acquiring Harden on Wednesday afternoon, the Brooklyn Nets had +600 odds to win the NBA Championship in online sports betting. Those odds skyrocketed after news broke of the four-team megadeal, sending the Nets to +300 and barely behind the Los Angeles Lakers (+250), who’ve sat atop the board all season. As the Lakers chase an 18th championship, the Nets are chasing their first-ever championship. They won two ABA titles as the New York Nets during a dominant three-year run in the 1970s but are 0-2 in NBA Finals appearances since arriving in the NBA in 1976.
Full list of NBA Championship odds (as of Wednesday, Jan. 13):
Trail Blazers: +5000
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Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor, a college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else. He has written for Sports Illustrated, HERO Sports, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter: @adoughty88.