James Harden reportedly made known several frustrations with the Nets – Kyrie Irving not being fully available due to Irving’s decision not to get vaccinated/New York City’s vaccine mandate, Steve Nash’s rotations, Brooklyn lifestyle.
Harden just didn’t make his frustrations with the Nets known to the Nets for a while.
In a misguided attempt to protect his reputation, Harden reportedly tried to avoid requesting a trade. Yet, he couldn’t help but make abundantly clear he wanted to leave. Eventually, Harden reportedly requested a trade from Nets owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks – then got dealt to the 76ers.
What did Harden say in the end about why he actually wanted out?
There’s a lot of those conversations that obviously have to remain private, as you would expect and everybody understands. And if James wants to allude to those decisions and speak for himself, obviously, totally happy for him to do that.
James has been upfront from day one with, you know, the clock is ticking for him. He wants to win a championship. And we do too. And if he feels like this was not the right place to win a championship and we felt like we could continue with our goals of being that last team standing by making a trade, that’s why we made the deal.
I’m somewhat surprised Marks went past the first two sentences. Why, despite his apparent instincts not to share Harden’s message, did Marks reveal so much?
Was Marks just telling the truth? That isn’t exactly the norm for this franchise. But he did come across as forthright throughout this press conference.
Was Marks taking a shot at Harden? The Nets were recently championship favorites and slipped to near-favorite only when Harden sulked. It wouldn’t reflect well on Harden if he bailed on a stronger championship contender in an attempt to win a championship. By the playoffs, Kevin Durant could be healthy and Irving could be fully available. Harden has a history of undercutting his title chances by not getting along with his star teammates. It’s also less than flattering to point out time is running out for Harden, a 32-year-old who is already showing signs of decline. Philadelphia might be his last chance to win a ring as a star.
Was Marks trying to pressure Harden and the 76ers and/or challenge his own team? After all, despite just working together to complete this trade, Brooklyn and Philadelphia are still competing with each other for a championship. Believing Harden bailed on them because he didn’t see them as good enough could motivate the Nets. The 76ers could feel the stress of such high expectations. (Or the Nets could be demoralized by Harden’s possibly-true assessment, and the 76ers could feel strengthened to rise to the occasion.)
Perhaps, a combinations of these reasons prompted Marks’ comment. Or none of them.
Harden will have a chance to speak for himself tomorrow.