Is James Harden’s time as a member of the Brooklyn Nets coming to an end?
It seems like it could be a possibility after The Athletic reported that the Nets will engage in talks with the Philadelphia 76ers over a possible deal involving Harden and Ben Simmons before the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline. This is a major shift in direction for the franchise that just last week reportedly indicated that it would not entertain any trade discussions for the third member of its’ “Big 3.”
The 76ers have been at the heart of the ongoing rumors that Harden could be leaving Brooklyn, although it was expected that it would occur during the offseason and not at the trade deadline. Any deal between Philly and Brooklyn would take more than just a one-for-one swap of Harden and Simmons.
The 76ers are believed to have other pieces that can sweeten the pot, including Seth Curry, Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle, according to the report from The Athletic.
Rumors began to pop back up in January about the Sixers’ interest in Harden and a growing belief he would be open to a change of scenery after this season. Then last week a report surfaced that Harden was frustrated with a number of things with the Nets, which included the rotation, Kyrie Irving’s part-time status and his life in Brooklyn.
Harden denied knowing anything about those rumors and essentially denied the report.
“You’re talking about reports, I don’t know about reports. Did you guys hear from me. I don’t know about no reports,” Harden said at the time.
What’s unclear now is whether or not Harden has asked for a trade out of Brooklyn or whether his commitment to the organization has changed. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Harden had repeatedly told management and ownership he was “committed to being a Net.”
Frustration has surely had to have been growing for Harden, who has had to carry a heavy burden since Kevin Durant was sidelined with an MCL sprain. Harden himself has also had to deal with injuries, including a hand sprain and hamstring tightness.
The latter will force him to miss Friday’s game in Utah.
If some sort of deal is worked out — and it’s not guaranteed it will happen — the Nets’ “Big 3” of Harden, Durant and Irving will have played just 16 games together over two seasons, far from what any of them had envisioned when Harden had arrived last January.
News that a deal could be made comes as the Nets have reeled from a six-game losing streak, the longest in Steve Nash’s tenure as a head coach. And they were already saddled with more bad news on Thursday night that indicated Joe Harris may not return this season from the ankle surgery he had in November.