Credit: Bill Moore photo

James Harden arrived in Brooklyn and delivered a haymaker. The Brooklyn Nets finally granted Kevin Durant his wish of reuniting him with his friend and former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate. The Nets sent the Houston Rockets three unprotected first round picks—2022, 2024 and 2026 along with first round pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2023 and 2027.

In what would amount to a mammoth four-team trade that also included the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers, the Nets traded emerging guard Caris LeVert (Pacers), up-and-coming center Jarrett Allen and forwards Taurean Prince (Cavaliers) and Rodions Kurucs (Rockets).

Harden certainly didn’t disappoint in his Nets’ debut last Saturday, a 122-115 win against the Orlando Magic at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The 31-year-old three-time NBA scoring champion and 2018 league MVP put up a stat line of 32 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists, becoming the seventh player in NBA history to have a triple double in his first game after being traded. Additionally, he is the only player to score over 30 points.

“Well, he stuffed the stat sheet,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said in an interview with the YES Network after Harden’s coming out party. “Obviously, James is a brilliant basketball player and we got to incorporate him.”

Durant, who also had a marvelous game with a season-high 42 points, was likewise mesmerized. “It was incredible,” Durant said. “You can see him trying to figure the best way to play early on. He just got into his mode—being aggressive to score opened up the game for all of us.”

Harden was spectacular again on Monday, leading the Nets with 34 points and 12 assists, augmented by Durant’s 30 points and nine rebounds, as the Nets defeated the Milwaukee Bucks at home 125-123. They went into their game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road last night, Jan. 20, 9-6 and on a four-game winning streak.

The hope now for the franchise is getting back six-time All-Star Kyrie Irving in top form. Irving hasn’t played since Jan. 5 after leaving the team for personal reasons. Monday’s game was the Nets’ seventh straight without the 28-year-old point guard.

“I’m so excited for Ky to get back,” Harden said. “He’s a key piece to what we are trying to do. The chemistry we can build. The sooner we can be on the court together, it’s going to be scary…”

Irving has been fined $50,000 for violating the league’s health and safety protocols after a video posted online revealed him maskless at a birthday party he threw for his sister and father two weekends ago in West Orange, N.J. He will also forfeit salary for the games in which he will be absent due to mandatory quarantining.

The first five games Irving was out—spanning Jan. 7 through Jan. 13—were officially listed as absences resulting from personal reasons.