It happened very quickly, but it seems like James Harden could be traded by the Brooklyn Nets before next week’s NBA trade deadline. After initial indications said the team did not want to discuss a Harden move before Feb. 10, recent reporting indicates that the Nets are open to receiving calls from the Philadelphia 76ers and seeing if the two sides can work something out.
All of this begs the question: How did we get here so quickly? Yes, the Nets are struggling recently, as the team has lost seven games in a row while Kevin Durant is sidelined with an MCL sprain. But according to Alex Schiffer of The Athletic, Harden’s frustrations go beyond that losing streak.
“While Harden has thrown hints that he’s not crazy about Irving’s part-time status, a source with knowledge of Harden’s thinking said he’s frustrated in general with his Nets tenure,” Schiffer wrote. “He came to Brooklyn expecting to be part of a three-headed monster, yet has played a similar role to what was required of him in Houston: having to be the guy.”
Durant’s absence and Irving’s status as a part-time player — which Schiffer says “hasn’t been as much of a problem as one would expect because he’s played hard when available” — have made it so Harden has to shoulder a gigantic load in Brooklyn. His scoring numbers have gone down this year, as has his efficiency, but Harden has still produced for the Nets, as he’s averaging 22.5 points, 10.2 assists, and eight rebounds in 37 minutes per game while connecting on 41.4 percent of his attempts from the field and 33.2 percent of his attempts from three.
If rumors are true and Philly is a potential landing spot before the deadline, Harden would be able to defer a whole lot of responsibility to Joel Embiid and, if he’s not included in a trade, Tyrese Maxey. But if that does not happen, and he stays in Brooklyn, Harden can at least take some solace in knowing Durant’s return isn’t too far away.