Bucks-Pelicans Jrue Holiday trade completely screwed Nets in James Harden talks

Can the Nets trade for James Harden without ravaging all of their resources?

Remember when Brooklyn Nets fans thought that hiring Steve Nash and assembling arguably the most stacked coaching staff of all time would be the biggest move of their offseason? That seems like ages ago as the franchise is once again the talk of the NBA.

Only this time, however, it’s for a much bigger reason as Brooklyn has been tabbed the only preferred landing spot for disgruntled star James Harden, who evidently wants nothing to do with the Houston Rockets anymore.

How serious is Harden about teaming up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving? Well, it was reported on Monday night that he turned down a two-year extension that would’ve made him the first player in NBA history to bank $50 million annually.

That means Nets GM Sean Marks has to seriously consider the positives and negatives. While we would argue that there’s more of the latter than the former, one huge downside is the sheer haul that Houston will demand for Harden. With that in mind, is it possible for Brooklyn to trade for him without wiping out their resources?

If you asked us before Monday night, we probably would’ve said yes. Look no further than Lakers star Anthony Davis, who was acquired for three protected first-round picks and three serviceable NBA players (Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball) last summer.

Are Harden and Davis on the same level in terms of superstardom? No doubt, but Los Angeles was far more desperate than Brooklyn is at this very moment. With Harden seemingly not wanting to play another second in Houston, the Rockets have lost all of their leverage, so the Nets likely could’ve gotten away with a reasonable deal.

After Monday night, however, the pendulum has swung back in Houston’s favor, as Milwaukee acquired point guard Jrue Holiday from the Pelicans in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, three first-round picks (!), and two swap picks.

Holiday is arguably the best perimeter defender in the league, but nobody would argue that he’s worth that much compensation, especially on an expiring contract. We know that the impending contractual decision of Giannis Antetokounmpo drove up the price from the Pelicans, but you better believe that Houston is going to take full advantage of this absurd trade inflation.

The Rockets might be brash enough to start the asking price for Harden at four first-round selections and two (maybe three) members of Brooklyn’s enticing young core. That means two or three of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Spencer Dinwiddie would be included in any potential deal, and that would completely devastate the Nets’ depth.

Again, if you asked us before the Holiday deal was completed, Brooklyn might’ve been able to attain Harden for hardly a backbreaking haul. Now that Houston is aware of the market, however, the Nets will have to unload almost all of their resources to strike a deal for him — or include Kyrie Irving in one of the blockbuster offers.