Report: James Harden making clear he wants to leave Nets

James Harden in Brooklyn Nets v Sacramento Kings
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Why did the Nets go from reportedly refusing to even entertain a James Harden trade to being open to dealing Harden to the 76ers for Ben Simmons before the trade deadline?

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

I can’t tell you how much James Harden wants this. You’ve got to be very careful using the q-word or saying whatever, but his actions over the last 10 days are basically a threat to the Nets.

He is screaming in every way he possibly can “I don’t want to be here. Get me out of here.”

That’s what has spurred this into being, James Harden’s basic feeling that “I don’t want to be here anymore.”

If he’s telling the Nets he’s committed to them, as he reportedly is, Harden isn’t screaming about leaving in every possible way.

But Harden can be uncomfortable diving deeply into dram and negativity. He might find it easier to be passive-aggressive than confrontational.

Harden was never necessarily fully committed to the Nets. He has let word leak that he’s frustrated with Brooklyn – from Kyrie Irving‘s part-time status to Steve Nash’s rotations to New York City’s climate. Harden’s camp has talked about joining Joel Embiid in Philadelphia. Harden also reportedly conveyed he’s intent on becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Windhorst also cited Harden scoring just four points in 37 minutes in the Nets’ loss to the Kings last week. That was Harden’s fewest points per minute in a game in more than a decade aside from two games he left early due to injury while scoreless (Nets-Knicks last April and Nets-Bucks Game 1 in last year’s playoffs)

Harden has missed Brooklyn’s three games since, citing hamstring tightness.

Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Publicly, the Nets say they want to keep Harden for the rest of the season.

However, sources say they’re split behind closed door. Some want to get rid of him now, thinking that he’s quit on the team and is destroying the chemistry.

While valid or not, some in New York and around the league are questioning the severity of the left hamstring tightness that sidelined him the past three games.

We recently saw how Harden undermined the Rockets once he decided he wanted to leave Houston.

Of course, the Rockets were down considerably at that point with no clear path back into title contention. If Kevin Durant gets healthy – even if Irving doesn’t become eligible for home games, though especially if he does – Brooklyn can win a championship this year with a fully engaged Harden. Perhaps, Harden will embrace that path if not traded by tomorrow’s deadline.

Or he could get more belligerent as the trade deadline approaches or even – in a worst-case scenario for the Nets – continue to sulk afterward if kept then leave.

When a report emerged last year the Rockets were gaining confidence Harden wouldn’t push a trade demand the rest of the season, he publicly declared the team to be broken beyond repair. Houston traded him the next day.

Nash said the Nets aren’t trading Harden.

But there’s plenty of attention being paid to how Harden is acting now and absolutely necessary assessments of how he’d act after the deadline if still in Brooklyn.