George is right from the perspective that the trade won't have a major direct impact on the Clippers unless both L.A. and Brooklyn reach the NBA Finals.
Three of the four teams in the trade, the Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers, are in the Eastern Conference, and Harden—the best player in the swap—is leaving the Western Conference, so that's a net positive for the Clippers in the short term.
Houston was expected to rank among the contenders in the West, but it got off to a sluggish 3-6 start with the Harden drama hovering over the franchise since he showed up late for training camp.
Meanwhile, the Clippers are 8-4 so far but have continued a trend of struggling to maintain big leads that started during last year's playoffs. Most recently, they blew a 22-point second-half advantage in a 115-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors last Friday.
"We just have to change, pretty much," George's star teammate Kawhi Leonard told reporters after that game. "We've got to change it. We've got to get better."
Los Angeles bounced back with wins over the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans since that loss.
The Clippers have the talent to seriously contend for the NBA championship this season, and the Nets' acquisition of Harden vaults them to the forefront of the title discussion as he joins Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, assuming the latter eventually returns after being away from the team for personal reasons.
L.A. and Brooklyn will face off twice in February, at the Barclays Center on Feb. 2 and at the Staples Center on Feb. 21, and those games will now carry some extra intrigue.