Former Rockets GM and current Sixers team president Daryl Morey is quite fond of James Harden, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get him back.
The Nets have to be a bit nervous about retaining Harden, knowing that he’s yet to sign an extension to remain in Brooklyn.
In fact, Harden told NBA reporter Malika Andrews that he’s in no rush to commit to BK long term.
“You know, I think over the course of my career I’ve never been a free agent before, you know I’ve always been loyal and just signed it, you know, the contract extension. Just being there, being there, being there. I just want to take my time with it this time.
It would be very, very difficult to leave Brooklyn, or to leave Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. But I think this season I just want to focus on winning the championship and everything else will work itself out.”
Harden also assures Nets Nation that there’s nothing to worry about. He insists that he wants to keep balling with KD and Kyrie — if possible.
"The contract and money is going to be there. I don't plan on leaving this organization and the situation that we have. My focus is focusing on the season and winning a championship"
James Harden talks about not getting a contract extension done with the Nets before the season pic.twitter.com/mUWRvyjvgd
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) October 20, 2021
Harden’s words should be taken with a grain of salt, because as one Tweet pointed out, “he also said he’d never leave Houston.” So nothing’s written in stone. Business is business. The situation is fluid.
ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith offered his two cents on the situation on “First Take.” He thinks it’s very possible that Harden could be a ghost after this season.
“You might lose James Harden because Daryl Morey is lurking in Philadelphia,” SAS said. “Don’t think for one second that Daryl Morey ain’t trying to get his hands on James Harden. I’m telling you what I know.”
Morey Always Knew Harden Was A Superstar
In 2012, Morey traded for Harden, who at the time was the sixth man on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Harden was considered a level below young guns KD and Russell Westbrook.
The Rockets relinquished bucket-getter Kevin Martin and youngster Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick for Harden, who was essentially a role player, coming off the bench.
The move paid dividends for Morey, Harden and Houston, and the rest is pretty much basketball history as Harden was recently voted one of the Top 75 players in the history of the game.
The Beard went on to make the Rockets a perennial playoff team. Eight straight appearances, an MVP, three scoring titles and an assists title fill his “HTown” résumé.
In 2020, Harden forced his way out of town following the team opting not to retain the two guys most responsible for his meteoric rise, GM Daryl Morey and head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Morey ended up in Philly as team president and MDT joined Harden in Brooklyn as Steve Nash’s assistant.
Morey Tried To Get Harden To Philly … He’s Still Trying
Before Harden ended up on the Nets, rumors were rampant that the Sixers and Morey were in hot pursuit of the former Arizona State baller.
Reports say Morey did everything in his power to work out an amicable deal for Harden, offering Ben Simmons and other pieces.
The Rockets had no desire to do business with Morey. Some say it was a personal disdain or lack of trust between him and his former boss, Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta. Whatever the underlying issues were, they played a huge part in a deal not getting done.
Daryl Morey puts a stop to the Ben Simmons for James Harden trade rumors. 🗣 pic.twitter.com/5rfLZ72sAb
— theScore (@theScore) December 18, 2020
Even with Harden entrenched in a Brooklyn Nets run to the championship, rumors of an eventual reunion with Morey in Philadelphia still exist. The fact that Harden has yet to sign an extension with the Nets (one that could bring him a whopping $270M) leaves the door open to the possibility that Harden and Morey will join forces again.
The Nets are the championship favorites as they were last season until injuries derailed that notion. This season it could be Kyrie Irving’s vaccination stance that stops them. He’s currently suspended from the team.
Why would Harden want to leave BK for Philly?
The same reason Kevin Durant left Golden State for BK. Golden State wasn’t his team despite his Finals MVP. Dub Nation will always be the dynasty that The Splash Brothers built. Philly may have Joel Embiid, but if Harden came to town, his résumé plus Embiid’s injury history would instantly make Philly Harden’s team.
It’s highly plausible that the Sixers could hold onto the disgruntled Simmons until they receive the supersized haul they want in return.
The latest on the Ben Simmons trade talks heading into Thursday’s NBA Draft on ESPN and ABC pic.twitter.com/n5XoD14JWB
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 29, 2021
But there’s also the possibility that no team wants to give them that much for a player with obvious offensive deficiencies who has alienated himself from his teammates and organization. The stunt he pulled at practice that led to his current suspension isn’t a good look either.
But Harden is a one-man wrecking crew, and he alone would satisfy any demands the Sixers may have. The Sixers blew the first opportunity to snatch Harden. Morey’s still regretting it. Heat President Pat Riley is smacking himself over in Miami too.
The Heat and Sixers refusing to trade Tyler Herro and Ben Simmons respectively for James Harden is the biggest L of the decade.
— Liquor Dončić (@Hoopsketballer) June 21, 2021
So why would the Nets be interested?
Let’s say Kyrie decides to get vaccinated at some point. Then BK’s Big Three would be back intact. Offensively this team would be unstoppable, but they’ll always struggle on the defensive end.
What does Simmons provide?
Great defense. He can guard all five positions, has keen passing ability and is a quality rebounder. The Nets don’t have a player with Simmons’ unique skill set.
This is purely hypothetical, but with the Ben Simmons mess, Daryl Morey’s infatuation with Harden and the Bearded One’s desire to lead a team again, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility.