Steve Nash made the most definitive statement during the ongoing saga with James Harden and the Nets. Asked ahead of Sunday’s game against the Denver Nuggets whether the Nets were trading James Harden, Nash told reporters they were not.
Whether that remains true between now and Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline is still up for debate. The comments won’t quell the speculation though that Harden could be traded to Philadelphia in a deal for Ben Simmons, even as Nash and the Nets try to contain the outside rumors as best they can.
“I’ve talked to James, he wants to be here,” Nash said. “He wants to be here long-term as well. I don’t think anything changed other than noise from the outside. James wants to be here. We’re building with James and we think we have the best chance to win with James. I don’t think anything has changed on the inside, in our locker room, in our communication. It’s just all the noise from the outside.”
Nash added that Nets superstar has continued to reiterate that he wants to be in Brooklyn since the summer and the organization has continued to hold the position that he gives them the best chance to win.
All eyes have been on Harden since a report was published in January that he was frustrated with a number of things with the Nets, including the team’s rotation, Kyrie Irving’s part-time status and his life in Brooklyn. Things took another turn on Friday when The Athletic reported the Nets were open to discussions with Philadelphia for a deal that would send Harden to the City of Brotherly Love and Ben Simmons to Kings County.
Nash appeared to shoot down those rumors when a reporter asked for clarification on the matter.
“It sounded like, and I don’t want to misinterpret you, you guys are not trading James Harden,” the reporter asked.
“Yes, that is correct,” Nash replied.
Some have viewed the Nets decision to keep Harden off the floor as another possible sign the Nets were trying to move the third member of Brooklyn’s “Big 3.” He was ruled out of Sunday’s game due to left hamstring tightness.
However, Nash denied that as well, indicating that the Nets were merely being cautious with Harden so that he isn’t lost for the stretch run of the season. He did have a scan on it and the team isn’t worried about it being a significant injury.
The Nets coach described the issue as a “tightness and a strength deficit.” The injury is day-to-day so it’s unclear if Harden will be available for their upcoming games against Boston and Washington.
“We just don’t want to take any chances,” Nash said. “Last year we lost him for an extended period and we want to be conservative and make sure he resumes full strength so that there isn’t an extended absence. … We think when he’s healthy and Kevin’s healthy and Kyrie plays our team is a totally different team and we’re excited by it.”