Is James Harden Deal Good News For Future Of New Jersey Devils?

James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets in action during the first half against the Philadelphia 76ers at Barclays Center on December 30, 2021 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets in action during the first half against the Philadelphia 76ers at Barclays Center on December 30, 2021 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) /
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The Philadelphia 76ers pulled off a blockbuster trade on Thursday, sending Ben Simmons and a few other pieces and picks to the Brooklyn Nets for superstar guard James Harden. You either really care about this deal or don’t care about this deal at all. However, if you are a fan of the New Jersey Devils, this deal should at least be on your radar.

The Devils are obviously not as important to the Harris-Blitzer ownership group as the 76ers, but that doesn’t mean winning isn’t important to them. They spent a boatload of money to fire John Hynes and Ray Shero right after giving them extensions because they knew they had made a mistake. Being willing to throw money at a problem to fix it is the sign of a good owner.

That brings us to the James Harden trade. The 76ers have had many problems since coming out of their own rebuild with some superstar players. Joel Embiid, Markel Fultz, and Ben Simmons were supposed to be the centerpieces of a championship roster. The 76ers got rid of two of those three pieces, but they still have a championship roster. Embiid is having an MVP-type season, and the Sixers didn’t want to just completely waste it. They made a move for one of the 12 best players in the NBA to build around their star.

Hockey is different than basketball. There aren’t a lot of moves that have to hit correctly to make a team a contender. In basketball, two or three moves going well could mean a championship roster. In hockey, it takes six or seven minimum. They’ve made a few moves that work. Picking Jack Hughes looks like the right move. Signing Dougie Hamilton and trading for Ryan Graves should give them a top-line pairing, if only they could be healthy at the same time. Giving Jesper Bratt the opportunity to play on the top line. These all help the Devils towards their playoff contention goal.

The Devils are making moves to get better every year, but there are fatal flaws that keep them in the basement. They are currently going with a Jon Gillies-Nico Daws goalie pairing. Their secondary scoring has gone in the tank as of late. Their middle six disappears from game to game.

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The ownership group showed they are willing to make moves that take gusto. Trading draft picks, a young star, and more to get James Harden takes a huge gulp before sending the trade into the league. They haven’t done that in a trade since taking over the Devils. Most of their trades involve taking over a player they hope can turn things around. Even the Taylor Hall trade was a slam dunk. They need to make a move that means something.

Seeing the Sixers in championship contention just five years after being a bottom dweller means something. The 76ers made an immediate turnaround from 28 wins in 2016-17 to 52 wins in 2017-18. Since then, they made the playoffs every year, and they were the number-one seed in the Eastern Conference last season. They could end the season in the same situation. Now, it’s time for the Devils to figure out what went right in Philadelphia, and apply those same philosophies to the Devils. The foundation has already been laid. They just need to follow future steps.