Report: James Harden wants trade to 76ers, fears backlash from trade request

James Harden Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
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James Harden has reportedly made clear he wants to leave Brooklyn. He has reportedly also told the Nets he’s committed to them.

What explains the discrepancy?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Although Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden wants a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers, he has resisted making that formal request out of fear of the public backlash that would come with asking out of a second franchise in consecutive seasons, sources told ESPN.

Remember, people leak things for reasons. Who would be positioned to know Harden’s inner fears and feelings and leak that information, and why would that person do that? The possibilities are vast.

But Harden truly seemed to disrelish creating drama and negativity to force his way from the Rockets. Of course, Harden also didn’t regret it, either. He got the his desired trade to Brooklyn – or at least the trade to Brooklyn he thought he desired.

Unhappy with the Nets, Harden has sulked. Though a formal trade request would have sparked backlash, his behavior lately shouldn’t be a workaround that gets him a pass. In fact, this passive-aggressiveness reflects even worse on Harden.

The worst-case scenario for Brooklyn: Keeping Harden through the trade deadline, him continuing to mope in a way that undermines a championship run then leaving for no return free agency this summer. Maybe Harden, if not traded, can compartmentalize his misgivings (as perhaps he had been doing) and still help during a playoff run. But if Harden had been honest with them, the Nets could have made more-informed decisions ahead of today’s trade deadline.

If the cat is now out of the bag, perhaps Harden will be more direct. Either way, Brooklyn has some tough choices to make today.