LeBron James, the Lakers (right) and James Harden.
Superstar James Harden has switched to the Eastern Conference team, the Brooklyn Nets, for the Houston Rockets and another team, the Cavaliers. There was also a follow-up deal with the Indiana Pacers when Victor Oladipo was traded to the Rockets for Caris Levert. At first glance, Wednesday’s blockbuster that sent Harden to Brooklyn and rocked the NBA had nothing to do with LeBron James and/or the Lakers.
And yet, after the exchange, it seemed like everything revolved around LeBron James. This was especially true of one of his most consistent and harsh critics, Skip Bayless of Undisputed on Fox Sports.
Bayless’s reaction to the prospect of bringing in James Harden: Say good night, LeBron.
Say good night, LeBron.
– 13. Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 2021
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Well, that certainly fits with what Bayless thinks about the prospects of the Big Three network of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and the shallow depth that surrounds them. That’s a bold statement considering the trio hasn’t played together yet, and now the Rockets’ star player (Irving), who decided last week he didn’t want to play, and Durant, who has been remarkable and consistent.
Nick Wright: 3 HOFers had to beat LeBron James
There were certainly more arguments in James’ favor. The Lakers remain the best team in the Western Conference and are still the defending champions. They have rebuilt their team, and while they are not the same team they defended last year, they are a better offensive team.
Moreover, as Nick Wright, also of Fox Sports, pointed out, the only proven way to beat James was to have three members of the Hall of Famers on board. At least the Nets have it.
Gotta love the Nets move.
In the last decade you could only beat LeBron if you had at least 3 HOF players, and even then it’s not safe (13 OKC, 14 SAS & 16 GSW).
But without three, you’re marked as dead. So at least BK has a place at the negotiating table.
– Nick Wright (@getnickwright) January 13, 2021
Josh Eberly of HOOP magazine noted that even if Irving returns to a playoff-hungry team, he could still be a potential problem for the Nets. He pointed out Irving’s jealousy of James when they were together in Cleveland.
In Brooklyn, where he plays with Harden and Durant, Irving will be the third best player. If he has trouble being second best with James, is it a problem playing third fiddle?
Kyrie didn’t like the team that LeBron served, and now he’s the third most valuable player on that Brooklyn team. I don’t know. I don’t know.
– Josh Eberley (@JoshEberley) January 13, 2021
Kendrick Perkins: LeBron isn’t the only one who needs a-stacking team.
And then there’s Kendrick Perkins, an ESPN analyst who was briefly on James’ team in Cleveland in 2014-15 and again in 2018. While he too is surprised at Irving’s willingness to join his teammates, he is more concerned about the critics who are angry at James for needing a team to win rings. Perkins goes on to say: Because apparently it’s everywhere!
I wonder if Kyrie will make the sacrifice….. By the way, I’m tired of hearing that LeBron James needs a team to win rings, because apparently he needs everything! Go on…
– Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) January 13, 2021
Ultimately, removing Harden from the West only benefits James and the Lakers. While the Nets, if they manage to put their chemistry together, are a potential threat to the Lakers in the NBA Finals, the real threats to the conference Lakers are less and less with the breakup of the Rockets.
Nuggets under 500. The Trail Blazers (6-4) and the Mavericks (5-4) are tied this season, while the Clippers have been consistent but unimpressive. Maybe Yahoo! The NBA Sports tweet is the only one that mentions that James is eligible.
LeBron sees Nets trade for Harden pic.twitter.com/V80574GDYl
– 12. Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) 13. Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) January 2021
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