Bucks' Giannis Reacts to James Harden Trade: Nets 'Got Way Better'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo tries to drive past Houston Rockets' James Harden during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo praised the Brooklyn Nets' acquisition of guard James Harden on Wednesday night. 

While speaking to reporters, Giannis said it was an "amazing move" by the Nets, and they got "way better" by bringing in the 2017-18 NBA MVP (beginning at the 5:55 mark):

The trade involved the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers in addition to the Bucks and Houston Rockets, and it featured a ton of moving pieces.

Houston acquired the Nets' first-round picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026, as well as pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027. The Rockets also picked up guard Dante Exum and a 2022 first-round pick from the Cavs via the Bucks, guard Victor Oladipo from the Pacers and forward Rodion Kurucs from the Nets.

The Pacers came away with guard Caris LeVert from the Nets and Houston's 2023 second-round pick, while Cleveland landed center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince from the Nets.

While they have yet to reach the NBA Finals, Giannis and the Bucks have been the class of the Eastern Conference during the regular season over the past two campaigns, posting the best record in the conference each year.

So far this season, the Bucks are 8-4 and in a virtual tie for first in the East with the 7-3 Boston Celtics and 8-4 Philadelphia 76ers.

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It can be argued that the Bucks are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, and the Nets may have taken a big step toward doing so by adding another All-Star to the mix alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

While it remains to be seen how that trio will work together, there may be no more accomplished and talented triumvirate in the NBA.

Harden is a one-time NBA MVP and the three-time reigning NBA scoring champ, KD is a one-time NBA MVP, four-time scoring champ and two-time NBA Finals MVP and Irving is a six-time All-Star and one-time NBA champion.

There is also some familiarity present, as Durant and Harden were teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder for three seasons from 2009-10 through 2011-12.

Harden was primarily a bench player in those days, but he and KD meshed so well that they helped lead OKC to the NBA Finals in 2012 where the Thunder fell to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat.

The Nets are off to a 7-6 start this season even with both Durant and Irving missing a handful of games, which suggests their potential as a team is through the roof with Harden coming aboard.

Losing a quartet of key role players in LeVert, Allen, Kurucs and Prince shouldn't be dismissed as meaningless since they were all playing important roles this season, but the Nets still have the likes of Joe Harris, DeAndre Jordan, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Co. to lend support to the "Big 3."

Provided Durant, Irving and Harden all remain largely healthy and mesh well, there is little doubt that they will be major threat to Giannis and the Bucks atop the Eastern Conference this season and beyond.