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OK, the Nets mortgaged the future because... it's a business, of course.

Well, the Brooklyn Nets' blockbuster trade for start shooting guard James Harden, creating a superteam at significant sacrifice, continued to generate much discussion and buzz yesterday after General Manager Sean Marks addressed the media, leaving many commentators with more optimism than not.

As the New York Times distilled it: 
With James Harden, the Nets now have an elite trio of ball-dominant playmakers. Yet there are key differences in how Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving thrive that could allow this grand experiment to work.
The New York Post's Brian Lewis addressed an obvious question:
Q: GM Sean Marks said in November he wouldn’t mortgage the future, but here we are. Why were they willing to make the deal now?

A: The need was greater for both Brooklyn and Houston. While Marks can say this had nothing to do with Irving’s personal issues, Harden provides the most expensive insurance policy in NBA history against Irving getting hurt, going AWOL or being dealt. And after Harden’s pouting in Houston, the Rockets were clearly more motivated to move on this week.
FiveThirtyEight noted another reason:
In this case, Brooklyn decided to push all its chips in, knowing that this move would help its chances to retain Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving after next season, when the two stars can opt out and become unrestricted free agents. Harden can also opt out of his contract after the 2021-22 campaign.
Bottom line: it's a business. The Brooklyn Nets are not a public trust, or public infrastructure, or a nonprofit organization subject to some public influence and oversight. 

They're a basketball team, a "sports entertainment corporation" owned by a billionaire making strategic decisions to raise the value of his holdings.