Woj: James Harden wants out of Brooklyn; Nets, Sixers expected to have dialogue

James Harden
James Harden argues a call during the second quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden wants out of Brooklyn.

That’s the word in a new report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that was published five hours ahead of Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline. Harden does want a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers, according to Wojnarowski, but he hasn’t formally requested a trade for fear of the public backlash.

It would have been the second team in as many seasons that Harden had forced his way out of. The NBA superstar is hoping that  76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey can pull off a deal, but there have been conflicting reports over whether or not the two sides have engaged in serious trade talks.

Wojnarowski had reported that serious dialog had yet to occur, but other reports throughout the day on Wednesday painted a different picture. The hold up appears to be the return the Nets are asking for in exchange for Harden.

Ben Simmons would obviously be part of any package, but the Nets have also eyed Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle. Seth Curry and a first-round pick were mentioned as well by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

It was reported that Philadelphia offered Isaiah Joe and G-Leaguer Paul Reed.

“Both Philadelphia and Brooklyn know where his preferences lie,” Wojnarowski said during an appearance on ESPN. “They will have a dialogue today and see if they can find a deal.”

Speculation over Harden’s happiness hit a peak in January when a report surfaced that he was frustrated with Brooklyn, including the rotation, Kyrie Irving’s unvaccinated status and his lifestyle in New York. Harden essentially denied the rumors, but did admit that he was frustrated with losing.

The Nets have gone 2-10 since Kevin Durant was sidelined with an MCL sprain. The injury to the Nets’ cornerstone player has only added more weight to Harden’s shoulders.

While talks could go up to the 3 p.m. deadline, the Nets could very well hold onto Harden and see where things shake out in the offseason. Philadelphia has been extremely confident they’d be able to get Harden in the offseason, with the possibility of a forced sign-and-trade on the table.

“Brooklyn can play with James Harden the rest of this season. Brooklyn can treat this like Kawhi Leonard in Toronto, they know he’s going to leave, but try to win a title with the big 3,” Wojnarowski said.

That would present a major gamble for the Nets, who still believe the tide of their season will turn when Durant returns to the court after the NBA All-Star break.

Harden has missed three straight games due to tightness in his hamstring, but the absences have raised questions over whether or not they’ve been related to his unhappiness with the Nets and his desire to be traded.