What else was he going to say?
Although Nets’ coach Steve Nash could have dodged the question and said something along the lines of “that’s the role of the GM, I’m focused on getting my guys ready for the Nuggets.”
Instead, when Stefan Bondy asked for confirmation Sunday that the Nets were not going to trade James Harden, Nash said, “Yes. That is correct.”
.@SBondyNYDN to Steve Nash: "I don't want to misinterpret you, but it sounded like you guys are not trading James Harden."
Steve Nash: "Yes. That is correct."
— Kristian Winfield #NFTAllStar (@Krisplashed) February 6, 2022
This follows Kevin Durant saying he wanted to keep Harden as a member of the Nets. Harden is reportedly telling Nets management he wants to stay.
None of this will slow the speculation around the league about a Harden for Ben Simmons trade.
There are two ways to look at the reports coming out of Brooklyn in the last 48 hours. One is to take them at their word — the Nets don’t intend to trade Harden. Durant will be back, Kyrie Irving is playing hard when on the court (even if he has yet to fully find his rhythm), and once whole this team arguably still has the highest ceiling of any team in the East. If you’re following “the simple answer is usually the right one” theory, the Nets keeping Harden is the call.
The second option is this is all a negotiation through the media ploy to get Philadelphia to up its offer, specifically to put Matisse Thybulle in the Simmons’ trade. There are considerable financial reasons for Philadelphia to make this trade at the deadline rather than wait (a next summer sign-and-trade would trigger a hard cap for the 76ers, forcing them to shed salary; if Harden opted into the final year of his contract then was traded and extended, it would be a sign of tampering and likely spark an investigation). If the Nets believe Harden leaves them next summer anyway and they need to trade him, this is a way to get the most value coming back to them.
Again, the most straightforward answer is no trade gets made before the deadline. But until Thursday afternoon, the rumors will not stop.