Two weeks ahead of the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 10, the Brooklyn Nets have made it clear that the organization isn’t going to entertain trade offers for James Harden. The 32-year-old has been with the team since January 2021.
Harden didn’t sign a contract extension with the Nets by the Oct. 18 deadline but afterward, he said: “I don’t plan on leaving this organization and the situation that we have.”
Here we are three months later, and Philadelphia’s president Daryl Morey has made it known more than once that the Sixers are content to wait to pursue Harden in a sign-and-trade deal this summer.
On Tuesday, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer released an article that detailed the apparent reasons why Harden would be willing to leave Brooklyn.
Amidst all of the drama, Harden brushed the reports off and said that reports that don’t come from him aren’t worth listening to. The following day, ESPN reported that the Nets aren’t going to shop Harden before the deadline.
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Adrian Wojnarowski wrote that Harden is “committed to staying and winning a championship with the franchise.” Joe Tsai and Sean Marks believe that Brooklyn’s Big Three “make the Nets an unstoppable team when playing together.”
Harden hasn’t given any direct indication that he’s open to leaving Brooklyn this summer. The Houston connection that he shares with Morey is worth noting but last year, Harden wanted to be traded to the Nets, not the Sixers.
And as of right now, Philadelphia hasn’t presented Brooklyn with a trade offer for Harden.
The Sixers’ situation has changed drastically this year. Ben Simmons has no plans to play for Philadelphia again and Morey isn’t lowering the asking price for the 2016 No. 1 pick.
Brooklyn’s all-in on winning its first title this season, so it makes sense why Tsai and Marks aren’t engaging in talks regarding Harden. However, it could come back to haunt the Nets in the summer if Harden decides that he wants to leave Brooklyn.
If a sign-and-trade deal involving Simmons and Harden isn’t put into action and Harden (a free agent) still decides that he wants to go elsewhere, the Nets will be left with nothing.
Right now, Harden’s focus is on this season. He has a shot at winning his first championship, although the road has only gotten more difficult as time has gone on. Kyrie Irving is back, but only on a part-time basis, and Kevin Durant has been out for nearly two weeks with a sprained MCL.
Harden’s been under an immense amount of pressure all year, and his numbers show that. He’s averaging 23 points per game (the lowest for him since 2011-12) and is shooting 42% from the field (the lowest since his rookie season in 2009-10), and is shooting a career-low 33.7% from the 3-point line.
He’s been put in a tough situation this season and if he is frustrated with the current circumstances, it wouldn’t be a huge shock if he left Brooklyn during the offseason. Regardless of what Harden’s said, that’s something that the Nets need to be preparing for in the case that it does happen.
And if things come down to that, what will Brooklyn have to show for Harden’s time in New York? Hopefully, a ring, but if not, pure disappointment.