The domino effect is alive and well in Brooklyn. The infamous trade of James Harden from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets, in an attempt to form a “Big 3” with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, failed miserably. Top this with hiring a former two-time MVP, albeit an inexperienced Steve Nash to the head coaching job, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

Throughout this short-lived era, the Nets dealt with locker room, injuries, and off the court issues, effectively dismantling the All-Star cast completely after a couple of seasons. As their three-headed monster vanished in the blink of an eye, in-house hire Jacque Vaughn came in, along with the assets acquired from these departed players.

Now, with Vaughn reportedly out after nearly a year of service, the Nets' future appears grim. They sit at a record of 21-33 as the 11th seed, with no future draft picks until 2025, and that pick is unprotected.

Regarding Harden, the Houston Rockets' decision to trade their former superstar to Brooklyn in exchange for three first-round picks and four pick swaps continues to increase in value. This value could rise even further following Vaughn's unexpected departure.

Increased draft value

For starters, the Rockets still hold the Nets' 2024 and 2026 first round picks, along with the 2025 and 2027 pick swaps from the Harden trade. This disaster moves continues to breath down Brooklyn's necks.

On top of this, the worse Brooklyn gets on a record level, the higher chance the Rockets have in securing a lottery draft pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

Rockets have a great young core

 Houston Rockets center Alperen Sengun (28) and forward Tari Eason (17) talk to the media after the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

In year three, the Rockets young core is strong but inexperienced. Players in Tari Eason, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith Jr., Cam Whitmore, and Amen Thompson need more reps under their belt in order to truly contend for the playoffs. A decent record compared to years past in their own right, they aren't quite ready yet.

Bringing in veterans Fred VanVleet, Jeff Green, and Dillon Brooks are also key reasons for their overall success, but there's a piece or two left that the Rockets need to round out the roster.

Not mentioning Jalen Green as part of their young core at this point of his career is an arguable standpoint. His fellow teammates have gotten better each season, leaving him falling by the wayside. The constant benching, inconsistencies on the offensive end, and frustrations at Rockets media personalities led to head coach Ime Udoka's outright public decision to possibly reconstruct the rotation after the All-Star break.

It's up to Stone

As general manager Rafael Stone mentioned, the lack of participation in this season's trade deadline as a whole was done for a reason. They are looking at Brooklyn to add insult to injury from their aforementioned demise. Moreover, deciding not to trade most of their first round picks back to Brooklyn for a borderline All-Star in Mikal Bridges may have avoided further repercussions to the Rockets future.

All in all, Houston could have a rare opportunity of having your cake and eating it too. The question remains: Should Stone gamble these picks for a superstar, or continue the slow burn of a rebuild, potentially culminating in a powerhouse of a young core? One thing's for certain: this decision becomes tougher every time the Nets lose ballgames.