It sounds like Harden could've ended up in Philly, but the Nets made a stronger offer to the Rockets. Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets were in “deep conversations” with both the Nets and Sixers on Wednesday regarding a James Harden deal before deciding to accept Brooklyn’s offer, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. He adds that both teams made “very strong offers,” with Philadelphia willing to give up Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle, along with draft compensation.

However, the opportunity to pair Harden with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving prompted the Nets to agree to a package loaded with future draft picks. Houston will receive three first-round selections and four pick swaps from Brooklyn over the next seven years, with all the picks being unprotected. The deal also cost the Nets Caris LeVert, who was subsequently shipped to Indiana, and Jarrett Allen, who went to Cleveland.

The new Big Three in Brooklyn has been brewing for a while, Charania adds. He says Harden, Irving and Durant met in Los Angeles about a month-and-a half ago and discussed the possibility of teaming up.

There’s more on today’s blockbuster deal:

  • Simmons was “pretty ecstatic” that he wasn’t traded to Houston, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Simmons thinks the Sixers are capable of winning a title, and coach Doc Rivers is a huge believer in Simmons’ talent.
  • Harden knew that trade talks had escalated when he made postgame comments Tuesday night indicating that the situation in Houston couldn’t be fixed, states ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Woj adds that the uncertainty surrounding Irving contributed to the Nets’ urgency to get a deal done, and the trade was made with an eye on convincing Durant to re-sign after his current contract expires.
  • The Celtics weren’t willing to part with Jaylen Brown to obtain Harden, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (via NBC Sports Boston). With young stars in Brown and Jayson Tatum, the Celtics are on a different timetable than the Nets, Mannix adds.
  • Because the trade hasn’t been finalized, Nets coach Steve Nash couldn’t comment on it in his pregame session with reporters, per Malika Andrews of ESPN. However, Nash did discuss the challenge of trying to blend multiple star players. “It’s about trying to be greater than the sum of your parts,” he said. “That doesn’t change, no matter what your team looks like.”
  • Handing out grades on the deal, Kevin Pelton of ESPN gives the Nets a D, noting that Brooklyn paid a steep price to get Harden and will regress defensively with the loss of Allen. Pelton gives the Rockets an A-minus for finding their way out of a difficult situation and loading up on draft picks, while the Pacers get a B-plus and the Cavaliers get a C.

This article first appeared on Hoops Rumors and was syndicated with permission.

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