Several reports have stated that Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden has interest in exploring other opportunities outside of Brooklyn this summer.
The part-time status of Kyrie Irving, the lineup choices by head coach Steve Nash, and the borough of Brooklyn were cited as the main reasons for Harden’s discontent. Following Tuesday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Harden addressed the reports.
“I don’t know about any reports,” Harden said. “Of course, I’m frustrated because we’re not healthy, there’s a lot of inconsistencies for whatever reason: injuries, COVID, whatever you want to call it. But yeah, it’s frustrating. I think everyone in this organization is frustrated because we are better than what our record is, and we should be on the way up. That’s all it is. I don’t know anything about any reports. If you didn’t hear it from me, I don’t talk to nobody. I have an agent. If you don’t hear it from me, then it’s reports, So I’m frustrated because I wanna win and I’m a competitor. It’s pretty simple.”
That wasn’t exactly a denial.
Let’s peel some layers back. Players can make their feelings about a situation known a variety of ways. They can speak to management directly, speak to the media directly, speak to their agents and managers who then can speak to team management or the media.
The Nets are 29-18 and have only played one game with their big three of Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. Durant will be out four to six weeks with a sprained MCL, and Irving can only play in road games due to his unwillingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
As a result, Harden has carried a heavy load this season, and he’s had to change the way he plays more than anyone. From primary playmaker and tertiary scorer to primary player and primary scorer. This isn’t what he left the Houston Rockets for.
At the beginning of the season Nets general manager Sean Marks expected to have all three stars signed for the next several years. As it stands, Durant is the only player that signed an extension. Irving’s extension was taken off the table, and Harden has made it clear he wants to test free agency.
If the Nets are healthy come playoffs and win the title, all of this will be irrelevant. But the reports of Harden’s frustrations and the rumors of him being a target of the Philadelphia 76ers are worth paying attention to.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting the Nets won’t listen to trade deadline overtures for Harden, but it’s the offseason where a potential Harden move could be made.
ESPN Sources: The Brooklyn Nets won’t listen to trade deadline overtures for James Harden, a resolve largely rooted in the All-NBA guard’s repeated insistences to ownership and management that he’s committed to the franchise: https://t.co/wveLmWVqHU
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 27, 2022
If the Nets are not healthy and fail to make a run to the Finals, Harden could sign with the 76ers in free agency. But because the Nets have his Bird rights a sign-and-trade is more likely. Harden won’t lose any money, and the Nets don’t let him walk without receiving anything in return.
Playing high-level basketball with two other elite All-NBA players is what Harden came to Brooklyn for. So far those moments have been few and far between.
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