It may feel like we’ve made it away from the Ben Simmons-James Harden trade drama but in fact, we may never make it to that point. The Brooklyn Nets and Sixers executed a blockbuster trade that’s going to continue to be a topic of conversation for quite some time. With each passing day, a new report reveals itself and this time it’s about Kevin Durant and Harden’s relationship.
Harden’s final game with the Nets was on Feb. 2 but his last game with Durant was on Jan. 15 when KD sprained his MCL against the Pelicans. The duo carried the majority of the workload for the first half of the season in Kyrie Irving’s absence but Harden left before they could witness their work come to fruition.
Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer made the Harden-Sixers talk public when he released a piece that detailed the reasons why Harden would be opening to leaving Brooklyn during the offseason. We now know that Harden couldn’t make it to the summer.
Five days after the trade, Fischer posted another piece about Durant’s involvement in Harden joining Philadelphia.
What role did Kevin Durant play in James Harden’s trade from the Brooklyn Nets?
Harden denied Fischer’s initial report but the writer ended up being onto something. Harden didn’t want to make a public trade request because he was fearful of the ‘public backlash’ that’d come along with it.
It turned out that Harden had been contemplating a move for months. During his introductory press conference with the Sixers on Tuesday, he said that he wanted to be traded from Houston to Philadelphia in the first place.
If Harden truly never wanted to join the Nets, KD wasn’t given much to work with.
According to Fischer’s sources:
"“KD didn’t want to get rid of James,” one person familiar with the two superstars said. “But he knew it was over.”"
According to Fischer’s sources, Durant was reluctant to accept the fact that Harden wasn’t meant to be in Brooklyn but he caved and changed his mind last Thursday.
"“Kevin was like: ‘F–k it. James isn’t bringing s–t,” another figure with knowledge of Brooklyn added. “I don’t think that would have happened without Kevin making that decision.”"
Fischer wrote that Durant had been “discouraged” with Harden ever since the team arrived in San Diego for training camp last year. Between Harden’s conditioning and his anticipation to be a free agent for the first time in his career, KD wasn’t impressed. Harden’s lack of commitment (subscription required) to the team over the past few weeks likely didn’t help much either.
Apparently, the Nets culture had taken a hit over the past few months.
"“Kevin and James had a cold war going for the last several months that made everyone miserable,” one person with knowledge of the situation said."
Initially, we weren’t sure how to feel about the Harden-Simmons trade talk. Durant felt the same way too until he knew that there was nothing else that could be done. If things had gotten that bad between KD and Harden, it makes the trade look 100 times better.
Brooklyn’s had a rollercoaster of a season but hopefully, the team’s made it through the worst part. The Nets broke their losing streak on Monday night in Seth Curry and Andre Drummond’s debut and after the All-Star break, Durant is expected to return to the court.
Things are looking up. In the end, we’re glad that KD is still with Brooklyn and that Harden got what he wanted.