James Harden is reportedly frustrated with the Nets. He can become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He might be interested in the 76ers, who have the most-available star (star?) on the trade market in Ben Simmons.
Would Brooklyn trade Harden before he can leave for no return this summer?
The Brooklyn Nets won’t listen to trade-deadline overtures for All-NBA guard James Harden, a resolve rooted in Harden’s repeated insistences to ownership and management that he’s committed to staying and winning a championship with the franchise, sources told ESPN.
This shouldn’t totally assuage concern about Harden leaving the Nets this offseason. He reportedly always wanted to join Brooklyn for two years – not necessarily longer.
But the Nets shouldn’t be prioritizing long-term, anyway. They’re championship favorites this year. If Harden helps Brooklyn win the 2022 title, that would more than justify keeping Harden through the trade deadline – even if he leaves outright this summer.
There’s a case to trade Harden now for assets that would help the Nets in a future year when Kyrie Irving is more available. But Irving said he’s rooted in remaining unvaccinated, and the New York City vaccine mandate that bars him from home games has no end in sight. Kevin Durant has been playing at an extremely high level and is expected to be healthy for the playoffs. Brooklyn can’t assume that’ll be the case every season as the 33-year-old ages. Plus, most teams that would trade for Harden would want assurance he won’t leave in free agency. Though it seems Harden likes Philadelphia, Simmons doesn’t necessarily work as return. Who knows what other teams Harden would approve of?
So, while maybe the Nets should at least listen to Harden trade offers, it’s nearly unfathomable Brooklyn gets one worth making.
The Nets’ best bet is impressing in the playoffs enough that Harden feels good about staying beyond this season. As a fallback, an opt-in-and-trade or sign-and-trade could still yield significant return. The worst-case scenario, Harden leaving for no return in free agency, is possible.
But with so much at stake this season and Harden apparently content to play out the year in Brooklyn, the Nets will keep Harden through the trade deadline and let the chips fall where they may in the summer.