There are a little over 24 hours left until the 2022 NBA trade deadline. James Harden is still with the Brooklyn Nets, but for how much longer? Until Thursday? Until the offseason? Regardless, Harden’s taken the trade pressure off Kyrie Irving.
Irving made his season debut on Jan. 5 in Indiana and because of his vaccination status, he’s only allowed to play in games on the road. Unless New York City changes its mandate or Irving gets vaccinated, he’s going to remain a part-time player.
Harden hasn’t outright said that he doesn’t want to be in Brooklyn beyond the Feb. 10 deadline but he hasn’t refuted any of the reports. If he is truly unhappy with his current situation (which it seems like he is), it makes sense why the Nets are looking to trade him.
However, not enough emphasis has been put on Irving’s part-time status. He’s a generational talent and his presence on the court makes Brooklyn better but it’s hard to develop some type of consistency when Irving isn’t even allowed inside of Barclays Center.
Should more focus be on Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving instead of James Harden?
The question is, if Irving were vaccinated, would Harden still want to leave the Nets?
Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that one of the reasons why Harden’s open to leaving Brooklyn this summer is because of the workload that he’s taken on because of Irving’s vaccination stance. Harden hasn’t confirmed that but it’s something that’s worth thinking about.
Kevin Durant can’t control the fact that he went down with a sprained MCL but Irving could get the COVID-19 vaccine today if he so desired.
The Nets are a better team with Durant, no doubt about it. Brooklyn’s 2-10 over the course of the last month in his absence. When KD comes back, the Nets aren’t going to have to worry about getting stuck in another losing rut.
Durant’s the lone member of the Big Three that’s signed a contract extension. Harden had the opportunity to do so before the Oct. 18 deadline but didn’t. Brooklyn didn’t offer Irving the anticipated four-year, $186 million extension because of the instability that stems from his vaccination stance.
If Sean Marks didn’t reverse the Nets’ previous decision to pave way for Irving’s return, he likely would’ve been traded to a new team by this point.
The difference is that Irving hasn’t given an indication that he wants to be traded and while Harden hasn’t been outright about it, that clearly seems to be what he wants. Why else would Brooklyn and Philadelphia be engaging in trade talks?
If Harden does leave, will the blame then be placed on Irving? There’s only one way to find out.