Why each team does it
When a deal this big goes down, there needs to be serious justification for each franchise as to how and why they decided to entangle in such a seismic roster shake-up.
Here’s why the Houdini feels compelled to ask: who says no?
Why the Boston Celtics do it
Gordon Hayward may want out of Beantown. Fans should no longer view him as a potential title-winning piece and need to start viewing him as a trade asset. What is the best package he can net?
We’re not sure, but bringing in a win-now floor-spacing modern combo-big in Robert Covington, a Rajon Rondo-lite in Elfrid Payton (hat-tip to my coeditor Mark Nilon on the comparison), a 40 percent 3-point sniper in Ben McLemore, a 38 percent career 3-point shooter in Wayne Ellington and a 3-1 pick swap to get into the top 10 has to be up there.
Why the Philadelphia 76ers do it
The third star in any trio with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid has to be a 3-point shooter who can create his own offense. Who in the league does that better than James Harden? While he and Simmons will have growing pains together, the Kobe-Shaq comparisons for a Harden-Embiid pick-and-roll will inevitably form.
Oh, and getting rid of the albatross contracts of Al Horford and Tobias Harris to acquire him–and taking on the do-it-all role-playing Gordon Hayward as a bonus–is worth mortgaging the future on a title for in the next several years.
New head coach Doc Rivers also gets to coach his son again and Carsen Edwards and Vincent Poirier find themselves on a barren roster with possible opportunity.
Why the New York Knicks do it
For years, the New York Knicks have been chasing big-name free agents, and have even tried to get an inside track on several locally-born talents like Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker. All of their plans have failed miserably and somewhat hilariously.
This deal brings them their marquee name in Russell Westbrook, a Long Island product in Tobias Harris, a lockdown defender and potential Tom Thibadeau fit in Josh Richardson, a nobody-to-postseason-starter Shake Milton, and bubble quarantine highlight Danuel House, who seems like a perfect journalistic fit for Marc Berman of the New York Post.
Why the Houston Rockets do it
The writing is so clearly on the wall in Houston after Daryl Morey skipped town: this team is set to rebuild. Trading James Harden and Russell Westbrook is a must and any veteran that wasn’t dealt in this scenario (P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon spring to mind) should also have his roster space cleared for a younger player for the long rebuild ahead.
Romeo Langford, Matisse Thybull, and Kevin Knox headline the return from a player perspective, and Al Horford and Julius Randle may be able to shock some teams as a versatile frontcourt. The true story here is the six first-round picks and several pick swaps that the Rockets would acquire for letting go of their core.