The Houston Rockets made James Harden’s departure official on Wednesday afternoon when he was flipped to the Brooklyn Nets in a monster deal that also included the Cleveland Cavaliers. It turns out, though, that the Rockets were not done, and that one of the players they acquired in that deal will be used to trade for an All-Star.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Caris LeVert’s tenure in Houston came to an end after all of ten minutes. LeVert is heading to the Indiana Pacers, with Victor Oladipo heading to Texas.
Rockets are acquiring Caris LeVert in James Harden deal from Brooklyn and sending LeVert to Indiana to acquire two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo — in addition to the four first-round picks and four draft pick swaps, sources said. https://t.co/3Tsm0dErtP
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 13, 2021
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN confirmed that this is going to happen, too, saying that this is an expansion of the Harden deal.
The Rockets are expanding the deal to send Caris LeVert to the Pacers for Victor Oladipo, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 13, 2021
This is a gigantic move by the Rockets to get someone to fill the void left by Harden. Oladipo, a free agent at the conclusion of this season, is averaging 20 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.7 steals in 33.3 minutes per game. Still, while his free agency loomed large and there were rumblings that he wanted to move on, his inclusion in this deal is a shock. There was no indication that the Pacers were openly shopping him, nor were there any indications that he wanted out right now. This does, however, give the Rockets a look at a very good basketball player before he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year.
As for the Pacers, LeVert gives them a young backcourt scorer to put alongside Malcolm Brogdon — the now-former Nets youngster is averaging 18.5 points per game this season. The team currently sits at 7-4, half a game out of first in the Eastern Conference, and now gets a relatively young player (LeVert is 26) back in exchange for someone who had expressed a desire to leave. Even more appealing for Indiana is that LeVert is in year one of a three-year extension, giving them a player who can stick around and be part of their core for the foreseeable future.