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James Harden trade to Nets odds fallout: Brooklyn clear betting favorite to win Eastern Conference, still behind Lakers for NBA title

James Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a mega-blockbuster on Wednesday.
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When three-time reigning NBA scoring champion and former league MVP James Harden essentially ripped his own Houston Rockets teammates following a loss to the Lakers on Tuesday, he clearly was trying to force an immediate trade. Rockets brass got it done Wednesday as Harden is headed to the Brooklyn Nets to form a super-team with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. William Hill Sportsbook now lists the Nets as +120 favorites to win the Eastern Conference, down from +250. The Lakers remain +240 NBA title favorites, but the Nets have jumped from +550 to +300.

Harden clearly was not giving 100 percent to the Rockets in trying to force their hand. He had scored fewer than 20 points in four straight games, his longest streak since the 2011-12 season, which was Harden's final year in Oklahoma City.

Of course, Durant was one of his Thunder teammates back then. Harden and Durant have combined to win seven of the past 11 NBA scoring titles and are two of four players to win three straight scoring titles since the merger along with Michael Jordan (twice) and George Gervin. First-year Nets coach Steve Nash, a Hall of Fame player, now has to balance the egos of Durant, Harden and Irving. Wow, good luck. 

The trade also involved Cleveland and Indiana. The Nets sent Houston multiple draft picks and players led by guard Caris LeVert, who was then traded by Houston to the Pacers for Victor Oladipo. Brooklyn center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince were shipped to the Cavs, while the Rockets also receive Cleveland guard Dante Exum and Brooklyn forward Rodions Kurucs.

Draft-pick wise, Houston got Brooklyn's three unprotected first-round draft picks -- 2022, 2024 and 2026 -- in the deal, plus pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027. The Rockets also got Cleveland's 2022 first-round pick, via the Bucks. Milwaukee is now the +300 second-favorite in the East and +600 to win the NBA title along with the Clippers.

Harden presumably will make his Nets debut Saturday vs. the Magic, although there could be some COVID protocols involved that might delay that. If you are wondering, the Nets visit Houston on March 3 to wrap up the first half of the season. 

Below are the changes for the Nets post-trade via the SportsLine Projection Model. Brooklyn didn't get a huge bump because of losing two good players in Allen and LeVert. 

BROOKLYN       PWR   WINS   WIN%     PLAYOFF   CONF       CHAMP
Before Trade 5 41.6 57.80% 95.50% 18.60% 8.60%
After Trade 5 42.4 58.90% 97.50% 24.50% 12.00%
Difference 0 0.8 1.10% 2.00% 5.90% 3.40%

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