James Harden is coming off his most impressive performance of the season for the Brooklyn Nets. He shot 11-of-20 from the field for a season-high 55% and finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. His dominance in a 112-110 win over the Knicks on Tuesday is a promising sign for the Nets.
However, Harden’s future with Brooklyn isn’t exactly clear. He didn’t sign an extension with the Nets by the Oct. 18 deadline, one day before the season-opener in Milwaukee against the Bucks. According to the star guard, the organization has “nothing to worry about,” but it seems impossible to not be at least a bit concerned.
Knowing that Philadelphia made a push to trade for Harden while he was still in Houston, it’s clear theres outside demand. That obviously didn’t happen, but there’s still the chance that the 13-year veteran can join the Sixers this summer.
Harden has a history with Daryl Morey, Philadelphia’s president. Morey spent 14 seasons with the Rockets before deciding to join the Sixers in 2020. If Harden continues to largely underwhelm this year, might the Nets consider the path of a sign-and-trade to get value for him and switch things up?
Is there a chance that James Harden will leave the Brooklyn Nets this summer?
When asked about his decision not to sign an extension with Brooklyn, Harden said:
"“I don’t plan on leaving this organization and the situation that we have. So my focus, honestly, is just focus on the season and then winning the championship. The contract and all that stuff will bear itself out, but my focus is going to be locked on this season.”"
That’s reassuring. If he decides to stay, he’ll reportedly have the opportunity sign a four-year, $223 million extension. That’s worth waiting for, but there’s no definite guarantee the Nets will want to do that. And who’s to say Harden will want to stay if the team falls short of its ultimate goal?
The Sixers have their hands full with Ben Simmons. Philadelphia has yet to find a trade that works for both sides, so as of right now he’s still a member of the team, despite not appearing in a single game this year.
Unless there’s a drastic change, it doesn’t make sense for the Nets to trade Harden during the season, especially if Kyrie Irving isn’t coming through those doors. Brooklyn’s reportedly “well aware” that the Sixers are a likely destination for Harden if he chooses to not re-sign during the offseason.
But this summer? It seems as if some are preparing for this to be a reality. It’s worth keeping in the back of your mind, that’s all.