When I asked a couple of people around the league that question, the response was something along the lines of “in a vacuum, sure, but in the real world the Nets can’t separate Irving and Kevin Durant. They came as a package.”
Sources said the Rockets have no interest in a Nets offer, unless it would include either Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving.
Brooklyn is Harden’s preferred destination (although Philadelphia and other contenders are now on the list, too). The Nets’ standing offer, according to reports, is something along the lines of Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, plus several future picks/pick swaps. Brooklyn wants to add Harden to Irving and Durant, not split them up. The Rockets want a young franchise player in return for Harden and, with all due respect to a good player, LeVert is not that. The deal as proposed sits dead in the water.
Irving is not young, but he’s also just 28 and in his prime. If the Irving and Durant pairing comes apart this season maybe Brooklyn would consider trading Irving, but the organization is reportedly nowhere near that right now.
It’s much the same in Philadelphia, where the 76ers want to see how Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid play together under new coach Doc Rivers — with more shooting around them thanks to Daryl Morey — before making any decisions about what might come next. They are not making a move in the short term.
Trades with Milwaukee and Miami are far more complicated and less likely. In the case of Miami, is Harden a fit with the Heat’s selfless style of play on the court, or with their Pat Riley-led culture off it?
For now, it looks like Harden and the Rockets will start the season together in a loveless marriage, making the best of it and looking for the first real deal to trade Harden. Maybe that will be Brooklyn in an Irving swap, but it’s not today.