The James Harden rumor mill is heating up with Brooklyn reportedly the veteran’s preferred trade destination. We know the Rockets won’t give him up for free, but with momentum building toward a fire sale, the once remote possibility of Harden leaving his Houston safety net now appears realer than ever. And if it were up to the prolific 31-year-old, he’d be a Brooklyn Net right now.
The Nets aren’t lacking for star power—they paid a fortune for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in last year’s free agency—but adding Harden, a three-time scoring champ and former league MVP, to the mix would make Brooklyn seemingly unbeatable. Of course, no one would bat an eye if this grand experiment failed spectacularly—Irving, Durant and Harden are among the most ball-dominant players in basketball and each have healthy egos. But super-teams—Boston’s Big 3 of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, the LeBron Era Heat and Golden State’s iconic Death Lineup (aka The Hamptons Five) among them—have been successful before and they’ll be successful again.
So how do Durant and Irving feel about potentially joining forces with Harden? It seems the two have vastly differently views on the matter. While Durant is all for reuniting with his former OKC teammate, Kyrie, at least according to Chris Broussard of Fox Sports, wants no part of Harden in Brooklyn.
“People around the league are saying Durant wants Harden and Kyrie does not,” Broussard shared during an appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd. “I don’t see Kyrie wanting to be the third-best player on a team.”
Broussard, who admitted to being “skeptical” of how the trio would mesh together, noted that Irving could view Harden’s tight bond with assistant Mike D’Antoni—his coach of four years in Houston—as a threat to his offensive role. While Steve Nash is technically the Nets’ head coach, most presume D’Antoni will be pulling the strings, at least initially while the rookie coach finds his footing.
“Every offense he’s created has had one guy handling the ball and creating the offense for everybody else. Who do you think he’s giving the ball to in Brooklyn if they get James Harden?” asked Broussard. “It would be a chemistry experiment to the nth degree.”
A former first overall pick of the Cavaliers in 2011, Irving’s scoring prowess and elite ball-handling ability have never been up for debate. It’s his leadership qualities (or lack thereof) and abrasive locker-room demeanor that critics question. Would Kyrie, who famously burned bridges on his way out of both Cleveland and Boston, rebel if the Nets acquired Harden against his wishes? This would all be a moot point if the Rockets end up keeping Harden or if another team (perhaps the Sixers) swoops in with a more enticing offer. But given his affinity for drama, Irving’s relationship with Harden would be a riveting subplot to follow in Brooklyn.