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Sources — Houston Rockets trade James Harden to Brooklyn Nets

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The Rockets have sent James Harden to the Nets in a blockbuster four-team trade that also involves the Pacers and Cavaliers, completing the disgruntled star’s exit from Houston and setting up a potential super team in Brooklyn, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.

The Nets sent Houston a package that includes multiple players and draft picks and features guard Caris LeVert, who was then traded to the Pacers for Victor Oladipo, sources tell ESPN.

Center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince are headed from the Nets to the Cavs in the deal, according to sources, while the Rockets receive Cleveland guard Dante Exum and Brooklyn forward Rodions Kurucs

Houston also receives Brooklyn’s three unprotected first-round draft picks — 2022, 2024 and 2026 — in the deal, plus pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027, according to sources. The Rockets also get Cleveland’s 2022 first-round pick, via the Milwaukee Bucks.

The megadeal reunites Harden with former Oklahoma City teammate Kevin Durant in Brooklyn and positions the Nets, who also have All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, as a title contender in the Eastern Conference.

The trade was agreed to after the Rockets opted to keep Harden away from Wednesday’s practice, following the former MVP’s comments Tuesday that Houston isn’t “good enough” to compete for a championship.

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Dallas Mavericks’ Kristaps Porzingis to make season debut vs. Charlotte Hornets

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Dallas Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis will make his season debut Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets, coach Rick Carlisle told reporters.

Porzingis will start and be on undisclosed minutes restriction as he returns from October surgery to address a lateral meniscus injury in his left knee. Carlisle said there will be a “range of minutes” that he is looking for Porzingis to play, but that will largely depend on how he feels. The coach said he will communicate with Porzingis throughout the game and check on how he is holding up.

“The big thing is to get him back out on the floor,” Carlisle said. “We won’t play him in long stretches. That doesn’t make sense. We will try to space it and get him in situations where he can get in a rhythm.”

The 25-year-old Porzingis has been a full participant in Mavericks practices for the past two weeks as he has been ramping up for his return. He had been considered to debut Monday against the New Orleans Pelicans, but that game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues among the Mavericks.

The addition of Porzingis would help the Mavericks deal with a depth issue created by a recent pair of positive COVID-19 tests and related contact tracing on the roster. Power forward Maxi Kleber, small forward Dorian Finney-Smith, shooting guard Josh Richardson and point guard Jalen Brunson are all in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Carlisle said 12 players are active for the game but that five others remain in the league’s protocol.

The 7-foot-3 Porzingis, who missed a season and a half while recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee suffered in February 2018, suffered his most recent injury in the opener of the Mavericks’ playoff series against the LA Clippers in August. He played the next two games — including a 34-point, 13-rebound performance in Game 3 — before the pain and stiffness in the knee forced Porzingis to sit out the remainder of the series.

Porzingis averaged 20.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game during his first season with the Mavericks in 2019-20.

Information from ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Zion Williamson enters NBA health and safety protocols, won’t play against LA Clippers

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Zion Williamson will miss Wednesday night’s game against the LA Clippers under the league’s health and safety protocols, the New Orleans Pelicans announced Wednesday afternoon.

The Pelicans traveled to Los Angeles on Tuesday after they were supposed to start a seven-game, 13-day road trip in Dallas on Monday. However, that game was postponed because of positive COVID-19 cases and contact tracing with the Mavericks.

It was unclear whether Williamson will miss more than Wednesday night’s game.

New Orleans did not add any other players to its injury report. The Pelicans were already set to be without Lonzo Ball (bilateral knee tendinopathy), while Eric Bledsoe was listed as questionable (right eye irritation) and JJ Redick as probable (right hamstring tightness).

Williamson is averaging 21.9 points on 55.7% shooting and 8.1 rebounds in nine games this season. This is the first game he will miss this season.

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DeMarcus Cousins rips ‘disrespectful’ James Harden, says ex-MVP’s antics ‘completely unfair’ to Houston Rockets

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Houston Rockets center DeMarcus Cousins blasted James Harden for being “disrespectful,” saying that the disgruntled superstar’s antics this season have been “completely unfair” to the rest of the players on the roster.

Cousins took his strong stance in a virtual media availability Wednesday before, according to sources, the Rockets traded Harden to the Brooklyn Nets in a four-team blockbuster deal that also involves the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Prior to the trade, reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, the Rockets announced that Harden did not attend Wednesday’s practice due to a mutual agreement with the franchise on the heels of his harsh comments following the previous night’s blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Harden, who had been pushing to be traded for months, declared that the Rockets “just aren’t good enough” and that he doesn’t think the situation “can be fixed,” saying that he had “done everything I can” for the Rockets.

“Obviously, it’s disrespectful, but everybody has a right to their opinion,” Cousins said. “We feel a certain type of way about some of his actions.

“This is the nasty part of the business that kind of gets swept under the rug. You deal with some of these things. When guys are in positions of being franchise players or whatever the case may be, it’s usually sometimes a nasty breakup.”

Cousins, a four-time All-Star who signed a one-year deal for the veterans minimum after missing most of the previous two seasons because of a series of serious injuries, noted that Harden’s postgame media session Tuesday night was a continuation of the former MVP’s disrespectful conduct.

“Just the approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court, the disrespect started way before (Tuesday night),” Cousins said. “This isn’t something that all of the sudden happened last night, but with that being said, like I said, this is the nasty part of the business. So it is what it is.”

Harden held out at the beginning of training camp, leaving the Rockets in limbo while he partied maskless in Atlanta and Las Vegas with rapper Lil Baby. After Harden reported several days late, he was required to test negative for COVID-19 for six consecutive days before being cleared to join team activities.

The missed practice time and preseason games were especially problematic considering the Rockets had several new core players and a first-year head coach in Stephen Silas, who was implementing new offensive and defensive systems.

Harden was sidelined again for four days and fined $50,000 by the NBA for violating the league’s health and safety protocols after video surfaced of him attending a private indoor party days before the Rockets’ scheduled season opener, which was postponed due to a lack of available players.

The Rockets have lost four of their last five games to fall to 3-6, and team sources have taken note of Harden’s glaring lack of effort recently. He has averaged 17.4 points on 37.8% shooting in the stretch — the lowest-scoring five-game span of his eight-plus year Rockets tenure — and has routinely failed to run back in transition defense.

Sources told ESPN that several people in the Rockets organization were angered that Harden seemed to point the finger at others on Tuesday night without taking any accountability for his own poor performance.

“I just feel like it’s a way about handling business,” Cousins said. “He can feel however he wants to feel about the organization or whatever his current situation is, but the other 14 guys in the locker room have done nothing to him. For us to be on the receiving end of some of the disrespectful comments and antics, it’s completely unfair to us.”

Cousins said he was “not happy with the drama at all” and was trying to get his teammates to focus only on the things within their control.

“We know what our mindset is coming in every day,” Cousins said. “We want to come in and work, get better, lead this younger group. Regardless of what’s going on with the team, the guys that are showing up, that are committed, that are bought in to the task at hand, we’re going to go to war with those guys. Whatever those results are, we’re going to live with it. We’re going to leave it all on the floor and whatever happens, happens.”

Asked if he could play with Harden again if he isn’t immediately traded, Cousins said: “I don’t really think that’s a question for us. I think that’s a question for him: Will he ever think he could play with us again? I don’t know. Quite honestly, don’t care.”

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