Kevin Durant denies he spoke to James Harden about Brooklyn; Warriors called about Harden

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In three weeks, when the NBA season tips off, James Harden will be wearing the jersey of…

The Houston Rockets. Probably. There is still plenty of trade buzz around Harden, including from Golden State (more on that later), but his attempt to pull an Anthony Davis and force his way to a specific team — in this case, Brooklyn, to play with Kevin Durant — appears to have fallen short. (In part because Davis was coming up fast on a player option and could leave anyway, pressuring the Pelicans, where Harden still has a couple of years on his contract so Houston could be patient.)

While the buzz around the league is the Harden trade talk is more player-driven than team-driven, Durant denied talking to Harden about joining him in Brooklyn. (Hat tip to ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth.)

“They’re making these stories up… I don’t know where that came from. James is a friend of mine, but I let the front office handle all of that stuff. I was just so focused on working out. I heard all the noise and I heard that James potentially wanted to come to the Nets. But anybody can make up stories, anybody can write a story and it gets traction.”

Decide for yourself if you think Harden and Durant spoke about teaming up in Brooklyn or not. There’s a lot of smoke, but Durant denies there is any fire. Either way, the sides are nowhere near a deal.

At least, Golden State made a call about Harden, Shams Charania of The Athletic said on the Complex Load Management podcast.

“I think you had several teams inquire. The Warriors, at one point, made a call for James Harden… I heard that one a little bit before the injury to Klay… But at the end of the day, if you don’t have the requisite pieces, it’s a moot point. Houston has the leverage. He’s under contract for two more years.”

Warriors guard Klay Thompson tore his Achilles in a pre-training camp workout and is out for the season, which changed the Warriors’ perspective on the season.

This is what good front offices do: Make the call, talk, assess the situation, and see if there’s a fit. It’s very difficult to imagine how a Harden/Stephen Curry backcourt would work, and the Warriors are not loaded with the kinds of young players the Rockets want back in a trade. A Warriors trade package for Harden would be something like Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney, Eric Paschall, three first-round picks, and two pick swaps. That’s a steep price that may not be enough, but it’s still worth the call just to get a feel for things.

On that same podcast, Charania said the trade demand for Russell Westbrook remains limited but added the Cleveland Cavaliers did place a call.

They talked to Cleveland, I’m told… I’m told the Rockets wanted multiple other assets [for Westbrook]. Whether it’s draft compensation. Young players. When you set the price that high, even for Russell Westbrook, if it’s not met the Rockets are fine going into this season and playing it out.

They may have to be. In a more normal year, there might be an owner of a struggling mid- or small-market team that would say, “get Westbrook, he will bring fans to the building,” but this season there will be no or limited fans in the building everywhere. In that case, part of the motivation for taking on three-years, $133 million, is gone.

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

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Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.

Watch Curry, Klay in 3-point shooting contest in Japan. Yeah, they’re good at this.

NBA Japan Games Saturday Night
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The NBA went to Japan to promote the brand, play a few games in a huge market — Japan specifically but Asia as a whole — and put on a show.

Is there a better show than Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson draining 3s? Here they are in a 3-point contest during a basketball exhibition (there were some pro dunkers) in Tokyo on Saturday.

Stephen Curry, was there any other possible outcome?

It’s preseason and they are the defending champs — they should be having fun, playing with some joy.

Thompson took part in the shooting contest but is not playing in either of the exhibition games in Japan as the Warriors ease him back into play this season. It’s a marathon of a season and the Warriors need the best version of Klay starting in April, not October.

Report: Pelicans, Nance agree to two-year, $21.6 million extension

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Larry Nance has been a stabilizing influence in New Orleans since coming over mid-season as part of the trade for CJ McCollum. Nance is a versatile player who can play the four or the five, knocks down his threes, is very strong on the glass, can be a disruptive defender in passing lanes, and fits in — and he has the veteran attitude of work this team needs.

So the Pelicans have reached an extension to keep the 29-year-old around for two years past this coming season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a signing that should make Pelicans fans happy. Importantly, it makes CJ McCollum happy — they are tight and this is something McCollum wanted to see. The money on this deal seems fair, about the league average for a solid rotation player.

Nance is the kind of veteran this team needs considering its young core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram (just turned 25), Herb Jones, and guys like Trey Murphy III, Jose Alvarado, and others. Nance compared it to the young Lakers teams he was on, but noted that team lacked the same level of veteran leadership this Pelicans team has.

We may see more Nance at the five lineups — small ball with Zion at the four — to close games this season in New Orleans, that could be their best lineup because Nance can defend but also spaces the floor for Zion on offense. Coach Willie Green has a lot of different players and matchups to experiment with.

And now he has the stability of Nance for a few more years.

Durant tired of talking Nets dramatic offseason: ‘I didn’t miss any games’

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No team had an offseason quite like the Brooklyn Nets. First, they would not give a long-term extension to Kyrie Irving, which sent the star guard looking for a new team (but there were no offers that worked for everyone, so he opted in with Brooklyn). Then Kevin Durant asked for a trade, and to gain a little leverage reportedly threw down an ultimatum of him or the coach and GM. No trade could be found — how much the Nets wanted one is up for debate — so he is back in Brooklyn. And all that is not even getting into the return of Ben Simmons, a trade for Royce O’Neal, or anything else.

The Nets drama and how they move past it has been the talk of training camp. The only talk at training camp, it feels like.

When asked Friday if there were any inaccuracies in the reporting of the Nets summer he would like to clear up, Durant sounded weary of rehashing the summer.

The only thing that will start to move the conversation in a new direction is the Nets playing and winning games (they open the preseason Monday against the 76ers). And even those wins will have the shadow of the offseason cast over them. Durant and Irving made this bed.

Part of the fascination is the Nets remain the team hardest to predict in the league. They arguably have the most talented roster in the league and, if everything comes together just right, they can contend for a title. It’s also possible the wheels fall off early and by Christmas the Nets are looking to trade Durant again. Both things feel possible (even if reality most likely lands somewhere in the middle).

That uncertainty about the Nets’ future is the drama that will keep eyeballs on them — which also means more questions about this past offseason. Durant can choose not to answer them, but the questions aren’t going away.