The Nets Go For Broke With James Harden

Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire

The long-rumored trade between the Brooklyn Nets and the Houston Rockets which brought sharpshooting guard James Harden to our area was finally completed last Thursday. As is the case with many NBA deals, two other teams, the Indiana Pacers and the Cleveland Cavaliers, were needed to take part for both roster and salary cap reasons.

In order to obtain Harden, the Nets had to part with four future first-round draft picks as well as four players with the two best being a pair of recent first-round picks, center Jarrett Allen and forward Caris LeVert.

News of the trade immediately triggered memories of the ill-advised June 2013 deal in which the Nets sent three future first-round NBA Draft picks to the Boston Celtics in exchange for a trio of over-the-hill greats: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. The payoff for the Nets was one post-season appearance in 2014 in which they were bounced in the second round of the playoffs.

I asked the Nets general manager at the time, Billy King, if he was concerned he mortgaged the future by trading a lot of tomorrow for very little today. “I’m not worried. My owner (Mikhail Prokhorov) will spend on free agents,” he replied. King was wrong about every one of his assumptions Not surprisingly, the Nets were in ruins for years and King was dismissed from his job in January 2016.

King’s successor, Sean Marks, has proven to be both a savvy evaluator of talent even when he had few resources at his disposal. Marks anticipated the comparisons with King’s folly and was ready to confront it. “Garnett was 37 and Piece was 36. The Nets were not in a position to compete for an NBA title even with them,” Marks stated. He emphasized James Harden is in his prime as are the team’s other two household names, forward Kevin Durant and mercurial guard Kyrie Irving.

Kyrie Irving is the personification of a favorite adage of sports executives–“Where there is talent there is temperament.” When Irving is on the court, he’s one of the most exciting NBA players today. The problem, as his former teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, can attest is Irving isn’t always motivated to hit the hardwood. He recently missed a stretch of games for “personal reasons.” He was also fined $50,000 by the NBA last week for violating COVID-19 protocols.

I have railed in this column about sports team general managers who fail to develop young talent in their franchises. Pro basketball is different as a team having just two superstars can win titles consistently (think of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on those ‘90s Chicago Bulls teams.)

If Irving can focus on his job and the Nets can avoid big injuries then they can win an NBA championship. Those are big ifs however.

On a sartorial note, the Nets have returned to their red, white, and powder blue uniforms from the early 1990s just like the on Lefrak City native and Archbishop Molloy alum Kenny Anderson wore for many years. It’s a vast improvement over the drab black-and-white uniforms allegedly designed by Jay-Z.

It took a bit longer than fans of the New York Yankees would have liked but the Bronx Bombers finally re-signed their best hitter, DJ LeMahieu, to a six-year, $90 million contract. There is little doubt the COVID-19 pandemic had a very detrimental effect on his contract even though no one will ever have to organize a Go Fund Me page for him. You can be sure free agent centefielder George Springer was gnashing his teeth upon learning the financial details of the LeMahieu signing. It’s clear deep-pocketed Mets owner Steve Cohen will not be bidding against himself in order to acquire Springer.

I immediately thought of former NFL VP of logistics and Queens College alum Frank Supovitz this past Sunday when WCBS (Channel 2) incurred technical difficulties which prevented part of the first quarter of the Cleveland Browns-Kansas City Chiefs playoff game to be televised in the New York area.. Frank wrote a book titled  “What To Do When Things Go Wrong” (McGraw-Hill) which gave detailed instructions to prepare for every possible impediment. Fortunately Channel 2 engineers were able to resolve the problem but I have a sneaky suspicion CBS Sports CEO Sean McManus reached for some Rolaids.

Cable network Lifetime held a Zoom press conference last week to promote a film dramatization about the popular hip-hop Queens-based duo, Salt-N-Pepa, which will premiere this Saturday evening.

Cheryl “Salt” James spoke of growing up around Farmers Boulevard and she told me she knew big ‘80s Queens hip-hop stars/impresarios as Russell Simmons, LL Cool J and Run-DMC but she stopped short of saying they acted as mentors.

James, and her future partner, Sandra “Pepa” Denton, met as nursing students at Queensborough Community College. I asked Denton if she had any regrets about not completing her degree and whether she considered returning to the Bayside campus to finish up. “That’s a hard ‘no!’” she quickly replied.

The new season of the weekly Showtime political series, “The Circus,” kicked off this past Sunday evening at 8 PM.

The Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas, traditionally kicks off the new business year. COVID-19 forced the show, now simply referred to as CES 2021, to become a virtual experience for exhibitors and attendees.

Procter & Gamble displayed the latest in its Oral-B IO series of electric toothbrushes which can measure when you are being overly aggressive in your brushing and which teeth more attention when flossing. A P&G public relations representative also told me one of the corporation’s goals is to reduce water consumption when using any of their other products especially when it comes to detergents and fabric softeners.

It wouldn’t be a CES show without yet another gizmo which purports to regrow hair on your scalp. Lexington International’s HairMax subsidiary debuted its Flip 80  Laser Growth Hair Cap.. It retails for just below $2,000.

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