Kyrie Irving is ready to play again and looks set to line up for the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday after a run of seven missed games.

The six-time All-Star has been absent for personal reasons and received a hefty punishment for breaching NBA health and safety protocols while away from the team.

That was imposed after Irving was filmed apparently attending a large birthday gathering while not wearing a mask.

But Irving confirmed on Tuesday he is back in training with the team, putting him in line to face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday evening.

Explaining his absence, Irving said on Tuesday: "There's been a lot of family and personal stuff going on, so I just want to leave it at that."

Coach Steve Nash said: "I expect him to play tomorrow. It's great to have Kyrie back in the building. We've missed him and I'm excited to get him back out on the floor."

Irving was fined $50,000 by the NBA and docked over $800,000 in salary for the two games he missed while ordered into quarantine by the league.

He will have a notable new teammate on his return to action, with the Nets having landed James Harden from the Houston Rockets.

Harden, an eight-time All-Star, bolsters the scoring power already in Brooklyn's ranks, with Irving averaging 27.1 points per game in his seven outings for the team this season and Kevin Durant posting 30.6 PPG in 11 appearances.

The new arrival meets with Irving's approval.

"I'm very excited to have James here," Irving said. "We're just moving on to the next phase of developing as a team, building some camaraderie and having fun.

"It's just really exciting to be able to play with great players."

He spoke of the experience that Harden brings and said: "Adding that to our locker room is going to be great for us."

Without Irving, the Nets have won five of their past seven games to improve to 9-6 for the season.

Kevin Durant and James Harden feel experience has proven key in a "seamless" transition to their partnership with the Brooklyn Nets.

The former Oklahoma City Thunder duo combined to impressive effect as the Nets battled to a 125-123 win at home to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

Durant won the game courtesy of a three-pointer with 36 seconds remaining to reach 30 points, while adding nine rebounds and six assists.

Harden followed up his dream debut against the Orlando Magic with 34 points, 12 assists and six rebounds.

It is the first time two team-mates have had at least 30 points in each of their opening two games for a franchise, per ESPN.

"We have been through a lot in this league," Durant said about his link-up with Harden.

"Experienced a lot, and for us to bring it together now and combine what we've learned over this time and try to play great basketball, I think it was pretty seamless for us.

"It was an easy transition, especially with James handling the ball a lot coming in. So we're still trying to find our way, and we've still got room to improve, but it's a solid start."

Harden is yet to practice with the Nets since his blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets.

"We were young in Oklahoma City," Harden – who impressively followed up his triple-double against the Magic – said when asked about his connection with Durant.

"We are grown men now. We know what we want. We really know the game of basketball now. 

"We are not those young guys that want to run around and just shoot and dunk all day.

"And then for me, I sit back and I know what player Kevin Durant is. He's one of the best players to ever touch a basketball. This is a huge win for us."

With four straight wins moving them to 9-6, the Nets are next in action at the 6-7 Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

The Nets' other star, Kyrie Irving, is set to return to practice on Tuesday. He missed his seventh straight game against the Bucks, who got 34 points from Giannis Antetokounmpo.

"This is what they do – they wake up, come to the game and they score 30," Antetokounmpo said. 

"If you're not aggressive and you're not locked in against them, they're going to score 50."

James Harden and Kevin Durant guided the Brooklyn Nets past the Milwaukee Bucks, while the Los Angeles Lakers' winning run was ended.

The Nets extended their winning streak to four with a 125-123 victory over the Bucks on Monday.

It was their second win in as many games since Harden joined in a trade from the Houston Rockets last week.

The eight-time All-Star had a double-double of 34 points and 12 assists, while Durant finished with 30 points against the Bucks.

Durant hit a clutch three-pointer with 36.8 seconds remaining to lift the Nets to 9-6.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

After five straight wins, the Lakers went down to the Golden State Warriors 115-113.

Warriors star Stephen Curry had 26 points, while Dennis Schroder top-scored for the Lakers with 25.

LeBron James (19 points) missed a three-pointer on the buzzer for the Lakers, who had Anthony Davis post a double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds.

 

Awesome Adebayo, Oladipo makes Rockets debut

Bam Adebayo posted 28 points and 11 rebounds to guide the Miami Heat past the struggling Detroit Pistons 113-107.

Victor Oladipo arrived at the Rockets following Harden's exit, and he had 32 points and nine assists on debut, but it came in a 125-120 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

DeMar DeRozan (20 points and 11 assists) led an even team effort in the San Antonio Spurs' 125-104 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. DeRozan (20), LaMarcus Aldridge (22), Patty Mills (21) and Rudy Gay (21) became the first group of four Spurs team-mates to each score 20-plus points in a game since 2010.

A double-double from Trae Young (20 points and 13 assists) helped the Atlanta Hawks past the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-97.

 

Doncic below his best

Luka Doncic described himself as "selfish" despite a triple-double in a Dallas Mavericks loss to the Bulls on Sunday, and he was below his best a day later. He went four-of-11 from the field for just 15 points in 34 minutes in a 116-93 humbling at the hands of the Toronto Raptors.

 

Clutch KD

Durant hit the crucial three-pointer to lift the Nets to their victory.

Monday's results

New York Knicks 91-84 Orlando Magic
Atlanta Hawks 108-97 Minnesota Timberwolves
San Antonio Spurs 125-104 Portland Trail Blazers
Memphis Grizzlies 108-104 Phoenix Suns
Brooklyn Nets 125-123 Milwaukee Bucks
Toronto Raptors 116-93 Dallas Mavericks
Miami Heat 113-107 Detroit Pistons
Chicago Bulls 125-120 Houston Rockets
Golden State Warriors 115-113 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Thunder at Nuggets

Nikola Jokic (averaging 25 points, 11.4 rebounds and 10.3 assists this season) and the Denver Nuggets (6-7) take on the Oklahoma City Thunder (6-6) in one of two games scheduled for Tuesday.

It was far from business as usual in the NBA again last week.

A total of 11 games were postponed due to stringent COVID-19 protocols, making it tough for some players and teams to find their rhythm early in the season.

Others have taken full advantage of opportunities presented to them by teams having to go deep into their rosters in order to fulfil fixtures.

We take a look at the players who had the biggest increases and decreases in production over the previous week.

 

RUNNING HOT…

Shake Milton

The Philadelphie 76ers have seen their roster badly affected by COVID-19 protocols and results over the past week have been a little patchy as a result – a pair of wins over the Miami Heat ended a run of three straight defeats but were followed by a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. One who man stepped up, though, was Milton, who was averaging 14.1 points per game up to January 10. Last week he averaged 29.5 – a difference of 15.4, the highest in the league. 

Duncan Robinson

Last season's beaten finalists the Heat are in somewhat of a rut having lost four of their past five to slip to 4-7 for the season. Robinson has done his best to help reverse the fortunes, though, having averaged 23.3 points last week – his improvement of 12.1 from his average at January 10 was second only to Milton. Part of the improvement can be attributed to his prowess from three-point range over with Robinson averaging five per game, compared to 3.1 for the season prior to the week. Team-mate Tyler Herro has also impressed – averaging 25.5 points per game for the week, a +9.9 difference to his average leading into it.

Bruce Brown

With the Brooklyn Nets trading away Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, Caris LeVert and Rodions Kurucs – as well as a ton of picks – to acquire James Harden, Brown received greater minutes in Steve Nash's rotation. He shot 8-of-11 from the field for 16 points in a win over the Denver Nuggets and had a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds against the New York Knicks the following day. However, when Kyrie Irving returns, Brown can expect to see a significant reduction in his time on the floor.

Luka Doncic

The Dallas Mavericks star started to find his range from three over the past week, going 5-of-9 from beyond the arc against the Charlotte Hornets and 6-of-11 versus the Chicago Bulls. He averaged four three-point makes per game last week, a significant improvement on his figure of 1.63 on the season he went in with. Doncic also had 16 rebounds and 15 assists against the Bulls to record his 29th triple-double, surpassing the legendary Michael Jordan on the all-time list. However, he ended up on the losing side against Chicago and blamed himself: "That's on me, that game. I was being selfish a little bit because I had 30 points in the first half. That wasn't me in the second half."

GOING COLD...

Fred VanVleet

Four years after going undrafted, VanVleet was rewarded for his role in the Raptors' recent success as he signed a four-year, $85million deal to stay with Toronto ahead of this season. His performances have not yet justified that outlay, however, and the past week was a particularly disappointing one. The struggling Raptors actually enjoyed a minor upturn in form, winning back-to-back games against the Hornets to improve to 4-8, but VanVleet scored just 14 points per game, 8.1 down on his prior season average of 22.1. There was at least some solace in a first double-double of the season as he stacked up 10 assists in the second Hornets game.

Kevin Huerter and De'Andre Hunter

It was not a good week for the Atlanta Hawks, their shock 3-0 start long since forgotten. Three Atlanta players were at least 6.0 points down on their prior scoring average for the year, yet it was the decline in three-point shooting that really stood out. Huerter and Hunter had each impressed from beyond the arc in the early weeks of the campaign, making 2.4 and 2.1 threes per game respectively. But a remarkable drop-off saw both make just two across three games - two of which were defeats - to each average 0.7. It meant the team as a whole made just five threes in the loss to the Utah Jazz and six as they went down to the Portland Trail Blazers.

George Hill

The Oklahoma City Thunder again traded assets for picks ahead of this season but have still managed to operate at .500 so far, beating the Bulls after defeats to the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers. However, Hill's outstanding early form is showing signs of tailing off. A new arrival this year, the 34-year-old point guard was outperforming his career average of 1.2 threes made per game heading into the week (1.9) but did not make a single one of his seven attempts from beyond the arc against the Spurs, Lakers or Bulls.

Terrence Ross

After a strong start to the season with the Orlando Magic, Ross went into last week averaging 17.9 points and 2.44 three-pointers made per game. However, in meetings with the Nets, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, he shot 3-of-15 from beyond the arc – an average of just one make per game. It's therefore unsurprising he also suffered one of the biggest decreases in points per game to 11, with 23 of his 33 total points coming against Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving could make his long-awaited return after being listed as questionable for Monday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Irving has missed the Nets' past six games due to personal reasons, while he sat out Saturday's win over the Orlando Magic due to the NBA's health and safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It came after the NBA fined Irving $50,000 and docked the six-time All-Star over $800,000 in salary for the two games missed while in quarantine after video footage emerged of him appearing to attend a family birthday party without a mask.

The 2016 NBA champion, though, is now nearing a Nets return as he prepares to link up with superstar team-mates Kevin Durant and James Harden.

"Hopefully, we're close," Nets head coach Nash said after beating the Magic. "I can't really give you a firm update on that. We have to assess that as we go. We do want to make sure he ramps accordingly so that he's not susceptible to unnecessary injury and protect him the best we can.

"But hopefully, it will be a short period of time. That is to be determined, though."

Harden – acquired from the Houston Rockets in a blockbuster trade on Thursday – became the first player in NBA history to post a 30-point triple-double in his debut for a new team after title contenders the Nets outlasted the Magic 122-115.

Former MVP Harden finished with 32 points, a franchise-record 14 assists, 12 rebounds and four steals.

Reuniting with ex-Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Harden, Durant led the way with a game-high 42 points as the Nets improved to 8-6 following a third consecutive win.

Durant also made franchise history for most consecutive 25-plus point games with nine.

Rafael Stone insisted James Harden's comments after two losses to the Los Angeles Lakers did not impact the Houston Rockets' trade plans.

Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets days after saying he had done everything he could in Houston.

After back-to-back losses to the Lakers, the eight-time All-Star also said: "This situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

But Stone said Harden's comments, which drew criticism from team-mates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, were irrelevant to the Rockets' plans.

"They did not affect me at all. In a trade there are multiple parties so I have no idea if it affected other teams," Stone told a news conference on Sunday.

"But I can guarantee you it did not affect us."

The Rockets acquired Victor Oladipo from the Pacers, sending former Nets guard Caris LeVert to Indiana.

As part of the Nets trade that involved the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston also brought in Rodions Kurucs and Dante Exum, plus four first-round picks, to go with four first-round pick swaps.

Stone is happy with the deal the Rockets ended up with as he lauded two-time All-Star Oladipo.

"I don't think it's appropriate to talk about the other deals," Stone said.

"I would say what is super exciting about this deal is it gives us flexibility and in the NBA, picks, especially high picks, are the best currency. Everybody likes them, everybody values them, so that was great organisationally, it gave us flexibility to do different types of deals as they come up this year, next year, whatever.

"We were able to get Victor Oladipo as part of it along with Rodi and Dante, but Victor is a guy we're really excited about. I think he's excited to be here and we think he's very talented so that was not insignificant from our perspective."

The Rockets hold a 4-7 record this season and are 14th in the Western Conference.

James Harden made NBA history on his Brooklyn Nets debut after dazzling with a triple-double in the 122-115 win against the Orlando Magic.

Harden became the first player in NBA history to post a 30-point triple-double in his bow for a new team after the Nets outlasted the Magic on Saturday.

Former MVP Harden – who swapped the Houston Rockets for the Nets in a blockbuster trade on Thursday – finished with 32 points, a franchise-record 14 assists, 12 rebounds and four steals.

The eight-time All-Star also became the seventh player in NBA history with a triple-double in their team debut, joining Russell Westbrook, Elfrid Payton, Lewis Lloyd, John Shumate, Nate Thurmond and Oscar Robertson.

Reuniting with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Harden, Durant led the way with a game-high 42 points as the Nets improved to 8-6 following a third consecutive win.

Durant also made franchise history for most consecutive 25-plus point games with nine.

 

Lillard inspires Blazers

Damian Lillard had a game-high 36 points as the Portland Trail Blazers topped the Atlanta Hawks 112-106. Double-doubles from Trae Young (26 points and 11 assists) and Clint Capela (25 points and 15 rebounds) were not enough for the visiting Hawks.

Shake Milton put up 28 points off the bench in the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers' narrow 106-104 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Ben Simmons fell just short of a triple-double after recording 11 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists.

Christian Wood scored 24 points and collected 18 rebounds as the shorthanded Rockets went down 103-91 to the San Antonio Spurs.

Derrick Rose was efficient in the Detroit Pistons' 120-100 upset of the Miami Heat. He was eight-of-12 shooting from the field, while making three of his five three-point attempts for 23 points in 21 minutes.

 

Covington struggles

While the Trail Blazers won, Robert Covington failed to get going shooting-wise after collecting 10 rebounds. He was one-of-13 from the field and just one-of-seven from beyond the arc for three points in 28 minutes.

A championship winner with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, veteran Rajon Rondo was scoreless for the Hawks. Rondo missed all three of his field-goal attempts in nine minutes of action.

 

Morant returns in style

Ja Morant sprained his ankle on December 28 but the Grizzlies star made his comeback following an eight-game absence. Morant had 17 points, including this alley-oop.

 

Saturday's results

San Antonio Spurs 103-91 Houston Rockets
Brooklyn Nets 122-115 Orlando Magic
Toronto Raptors 116-113 Charlotte Hornets
Detroit Pistons 120-100 Miami Heat
Memphis Grizzlies 106-104 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 112-106 Atlanta Hawks
Indiana Pacers-Phoenix Suns (postponed)

 

Pacers at Clippers

The Indiana Pacers (8-4) will visit the in-form Los Angeles Clippers (9-4) – who have won three straight games – on Sunday.

Brooklyn Nets superstar James Harden revelled in his record-setting debut, while head coach Steve Nash heaped praise on the former NBA MVP.

Harden became the first player in NBA history to post a 30-point triple-double in his bow for a new team after the Nets outlasted the Orlando Magic 122-115 on Saturday.

Eight-time All-Star Harden swapped the Houston Rockets for the Nets in a blockbuster trade on Thursday, and his first game in a Brooklyn jersey resulted in 32 points, a franchise-record 14 assists, 12 rebounds and four steals.

Afterwards, Harden said: "It felt really good [to get the win]. The guys got after it.

"Individually, I've got to stop turning the basketball over, but that comes with chemistry, that comes with practice, that comes with watching film.

"So, first game I'm glad to get a win and we've just got to keep going."

On the record, Harden was asked what it meant, and he told YES: "Nothing, I'm just happy we came away with the win. Those stats don't mean anything."

"When you're paying with really, really good players, it's pretty easy," Harden said. "For me, I just gotta learn reads, learn where guys like the ball, just learn our personnel individually so once I get that, the turnovers will cut down, I can be more efficient."

Disgruntled in Houston as he eyed an exit from the Rockets, Harden arrived in Brooklyn out of form, but the sharpshooter showed what the Nets are getting in a super team that also consists of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Harden was eight-of-18 from the field and three-of-10 shooting from three-point range in 40 minutes, while he also had nine turnovers.

First-year coach Nash, who now leads a genuine championship contender, hailed Harden post-game.

"I can't say I'm surprised," Nash said. "We had a pretty big simple size of him doing that [for] however many years in he's been in the league. But it's still not easy. He's still not in his best condition yet, he's joined a new group.

"Basically no practice time, and figured it out on the fly. He had a bunch of turnovers just because he's new to the team and the group and you’re thrown out there in an NBA where the other team is an excellent coached-basketball team....But all the things he did on the floor were incredible for his first game."

Reuniting with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Harden, Durant led the way with a game-high 42 points as the Nets improved to 8-6 following a third consecutive win.

Durant also made franchise history for most consecutive 25-plus point games with nine.

"James, he played the same way he always played, to be honest," Durant said. "He played the same way he was playing in Houston, being a pass-first guard, trying to get guys good looks. He played the same way.

"Coach put him at the point, I think that's his natural position, is point and combo guard. For him to get 14 assists, 12 rebounds for us at the point guard was key."

James Harden made NBA history in his first game for the Brooklyn Nets, who held on beat to the Orlando Magic 122-115.

Harden landed in Brooklyn on Thursday to join fellow All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving following a blockbuster trade with the Houston Rockets.

Former MVP Harden did not disappoint on debut for the Nets on Saturday after becoming the first player in NBA history to post a 30-point triple-double in his bow for a new team.

Harden – an eight-time All-Star – finished with 32 points, a franchise-record 14 assists, 12 rebounds and four steals for championship contenders the Nets.

Durant, who has reunited with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Harden, led the way with a game-high 42 points as the Nets improved to 8-6 following a third consecutive win.

Two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP Durant also made franchise history for most consecutive 25-plus point games with nine.

Steve Nash is eyeing a championship with the Brooklyn Nets after the arrival of James Harden, but the head coach warned his team they needed to improve.

Harden, an eight-time All-Star, was traded to the Nets from the Houston Rockets on Thursday, joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn.

The Nets (7-6) are set to contend for a first NBA championship and Nash said there was a huge opportunity ahead.

"We want to win a championship, for sure. That's why we made the deal, that's what we're setting out to do," he told a news conference.

"Having said that, we're so far from that right now so our expectations are to grow every day, to get better, to figure out who we are and what we are and how we fit together and where we can improve. It's a process.

"You have to earn the right to play for a championship through the regular season and playoffs so those steps are still in front of us before we can say we're a championship team.

"We're not a team that's running it back that's been to the Finals or Conference Finals even, we're a brand new entity that has to figure it out but that is the end goal and if we take the necessary steps and continue to improve and work towards that and commit to that process, why not? We have a great opportunity here with the players we have."

With Durant and Harden, the Nets now have two players who have won seven of the past 11 NBA scoring titles. No Brooklyn qualifier has ever finished higher than fifth.

Irving, Harden and Durant all rank in the top 10 in the NBA in scoring average (minimum 500 games) since the former's rookie season in 2011-12.

Harden could make his Nets debut against the Orlando Magic on Saturday.

James Harden believes he will combine well with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at the Brooklyn Nets, talking up the "sacrifice" that would be required.

Harden, an eight-time All-Star, was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Nets in a move that was confirmed on Thursday.

Amid questions over how Harden will fit alongside Durant and Irving, the Nets recruit is confident – and said there would need to be sacrifices.

"Chemistry, sacrifice and like you said we're all elite so depending on the game, depending on what's going on throughout the course of the game, that's going to determine who gets the ball and who makes the plays," Harden told a news conference on Friday.

"We're all unselfish, we're all willing passers and we play basketball the right way and that's all that matters."

Asked what the Nets fans were getting, Harden said: "An elite player, an elite team-mate, an elite leader and just a guy that is willing to do whatever it takes to rack up as many wins as we can, sacrifice."

Harden's arrival enhances the Nets' championship hopes as the 31-year-old looks to win a maiden NBA title.

With Durant and Harden, the Nets now have two players who have won seven of the past 11 NBA scoring titles. No Brooklyn qualifier has ever finished higher than fifth.

Irving, Harden and Durant all rank in the top 10 in the NBA in scoring average (minimum 500 games) since the former's rookie season in 2011-12.

Harden said the Nets (7-6) were in position to contend.

"Obviously you've got Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the team and then surrounded by those guys you have really good pieces in DeAndre [Jordan], Jeff [Green], shooters in Joe [Harris], Landry [Shamet]," he said.

"You just look at this entire roster and it's built for any style of basketball you want. And then the coaching staff who know the game of basketball at a high level.

"You just add that all together and that's a legit chance right there. It was a no-brainer for me."

Kyrie Irving is counting the cost of attending a party last weekend after the Brooklyn Nets star was handed sanctions that looks set to leave him almost $900,000 out of pocket.

The NBA declared on Friday that it had imposed a $50,000 fine on Irving, who according to TMZ and widespread reports attended a large family birthday celebration while not wearing a mask.

That was in contravention of the league's coronavirus protocols.

But that penalty is just the tip of a very large iceberg, as Irving also must sacrifice his salary for the games he has since missed while quarantining, and according to ESPN's Bobby Marks that amounts to $816,898 in addition to the fine.

In a statement, the NBA said: "Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been fined $50,000 for violating the league's health and safety protocols, which among other things prohibit attending indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people or entering bars, lounges, clubs or similar establishments, it was announced today by Byron Spruell, president, league operations.

"The violation occurred when he attended a private indoor party last weekend.

"Irving will forfeit salary for any games he misses due to his five-day quarantine period, which will allow him to return to team activities on Saturday, January 16 if he continues to test negative."

Irving has averaged 27.1 points in his seven NBA appearances for the Nets this season, but for personal reasons he has not played in the team's most recent five games.

The 28-year-old six-time NBA All-Star joined the Nets in 2019 from the Boston Celtics and began his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, landing a 2016 championship with the Cavs.

The Nets face the Orlando Magic on Saturday.

Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks is confident Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden will gel as they work towards a "common goal".

The Nets confirmed on Thursday they had completed a blockbuster trade to land eight-time All-Star Harden from the Houston Rockets.

Questions have been asked over whether Durant, Harden and Irving can work together, but Marks is confident.

"These guys have given us the right answers. They've said hey, they want to play together, they can see this fitting," he told a news conference.

"They're at a time in their careers – I don't want to speak for each one of them because I let them have their own their own voice and their narrative around this – but I think they understand that there's without a doubt going to be some nights where one or two need to sacrifice for the other and so forth. But I think they're all looking for a common goal.

"We’re all looking for that common goal, as I've said before, is to be the last team standing. I think when you have a group that is willing to sacrifice, and play hard, play together on the court, and they already have a relationship, a prior relationship to this, so I think that will help."

Harden, Durant and Irving all rank in the top 10 in the NBA in scoring average since the latter's rookie season in 2011-12 (minimum 500 games).

Durant or Harden have won seven of the past 11 NBA scoring titles. No Brooklyn qualifier has ever finished higher than fifth in the league.

Marks said the opportunity to land a player like Harden came at a good time for the Nets.

"The timing was right for us. And fortunately, any time you get an opportunity to acquire or try to acquire a player of this calibre it's something you do look hard at [and] is something we did," he said.

"The process sped up very, very rapidly and very quickly over the last 48 hours."

James Harden has been thanked by the Houston Rockets after being traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

Three-time NBA scoring champion Harden has linked up with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, who have gone all in on a championship run by bringing in the 2018 MVP.

The Nets gave up Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, Caris LeVert, Radions Kurucs, three first-round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first-round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027) to acquire Harden.

Allen and Prince were sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who provided Houston with Dante Exum and a 2022 first-round pick via the Milwaukee Bucks. Brooklyn received a 2024 second-round pick from the Cavs to complete the deal.

The Rockets are expected to send LeVert and a 2023 second-round pick to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo.

Harden requested a trade prior to the start of the season and following a 117-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday he said: "It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

The Rockets granted their franchise player his wish on Thursday and owner Tilman Fertitta praised him for his achievements in Houston.

"On behalf of the entire Rockets organisation and the City of Houston, I'd like to thank James Harden for an amazing eight-plus seasons in a Rockets uniform," said Fertitta in a statement.

"James has provided us with so many great memories as we've watched him grow from Sixth Man of the Year to a perennial All-Star and MVP.

"My family and I also want to thank James for his many off the court contributions, including generous charitable donations and multiple annual community events.

"We wish James the best of luck and will always be grateful for the memories."

Harden is second on the Rockets' all-time scoring list with 18,365 points, only trailing Hakeem Olajuwon (26,511) – a two-time NBA champion in Houston.

He averaged 29.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.7 assists during his time with the Rockets.

Harden led them to the Western Conference Finals in 2014-15 and 2017-18, losing to the Golden State Warriors on both occasions.

James Harden has completed a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets, it has been confirmed.

Widespread reports on Wednesday revealed Harden's eight-and-a-half-year stay in Houston was set to end, with the Nets agreeing a monster deal.

The Philadelphia 76ers had also been mooted as potential suitors, but Brooklyn's offer saw the Rockets receive Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, three first-round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first-round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027).

In a three-way move, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince were sent to the Cleveland, who put in Dante Exum and a further first-round draft pick (2022 via Milwaukee) for Houston as well as a second-round draft pick (2024) for the Nets.

The Rockets are expected to swiftly move LeVert and a second-round pick on to the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo, although that switch was not initially confirmed alongside the Harden deal on Thursday.

Harden had been keen on a move prior to the start of the 2020-21 season and has now got his wish, linking up with Kevin Durant - his former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate - and Kyrie Irving.

Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said: "Adding an All-NBA player such as James to our roster better positions our team to compete against the league's best.

"James is one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in our game, and we are thrilled to bring his special talents to Brooklyn.

"While we are excited to welcome James and his family to the Nets, we also want to thank the players who are departing.

"Caris, Jarrett, Rodions and Taurean were instrumental to the team's success and have made an enormous impact on our organisation.

"It has been a pleasure watching them grow both as players and as people and they will always be part of our Nets family. We wish each of them and their families all the best in the future."

Although trade talks were said to be ongoing for some time, speculation ramped up in the hours after Houston's defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

An out-of-sorts Harden put up just 16 points in 31 minutes in the 117-100 defeat and later stormed out of a post-game news conference after saying: "I literally have done everything that I can."

Those comments prompted a backlash from team-mates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, who both signed in the offseason as Houston once again rebuilt.

The Rockets failed to win a championship during Harden's time despite reaching the Western Conference Finals in both 2014-15 and 2017-18, with their star guard the league's MVP in the latter season.

Harden averaged 29.6 points per game in the regular season during his time with Houston, although that dropped slightly to 28.4 in the playoffs.

His return of 24.8 points through eight games this year was his worst average over a season for the Rockets.

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