Brooklyn Nets Rumors: James Harden Obviously Isn’t Moving Before the Trade Deadline

There’s been recent buzz about James Harden perhaps wanting to leave the Brooklyn Nets. According to a report, the team will have none of that, at least not before the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline.

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Of course, Brooklyn isn’t going to trade Harden before the deadline. Kevin Durant is out for at least another few weeks with a sprained knee. Kyrie Irving is limited to part-time status because of New York City’s vaccine mandate. That leaves Harden as the lone offensive threat remaining when the team plays at Barclays Center (or Madison Square Garden and Toronto, for that matter).

Free agency beckons James Harden this summer if he wants it

Let’s get the open secrets out of the way. James Harden has one season remaining on the extension he signed in 2017 while with the Houston Rockets. But that season is a $46.9 million player option.

Harden’s career is short of two checkmarks players deem vital. One of those is a championship, which seems further away for the struggling Brooklyn Nets every day. The other is the opportunity to pursue free agency.

In October 2012, the Oklahoma City Thunder punted at the deadline to extend Harden’s rookie contract. Traded to the Rockets, Harden signed a five-year extension to remain in Houston.

Before that deal expired, the 2017–18 NBA MVP renegotiated his contract in 2016 before signing his current extension the following year.

Simply put, Harden never had the chance to be the belle of the free agency ball. Few players have the chops to get such an opportunity, and a superstar’s ego likely finds the idea attractive.

Now, about the whole “we’re not trading Harden” leak from the Nets.

The Brooklyn Nets are struggling even with James Harden playing well

According to a report, the Brooklyn Nets aren't taking offers for James Harden before the trade deadline. In other news, water continues to be wet.
According to a report, the Brooklyn Nets aren’t taking offers for James Harden before the trade deadline. In other news, water continues to be wet. | Michelle Farsi/Getty Images

Tabbed as the Las Vegas favorites to win the NBA title, the Brooklyn Nets instead became something of a hot mess. Much of that happened in the shadows for two reasons:

  • The New York Knicks dominate the NBA coverage in Gotham and have been both hotter and messier.
  • The morbid curiosity over Russell Westbrook and the Los Angeles Lakers sideshow.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, citing sources, the Nets won’t entertain offers for James Harden before the trade deadline. Again, it’s somewhat ridiculous to believe the team would do so. No, come to think of it, the notion can’t even see “somewhat” in the rearview mirror.

Brooklyn’s vaunted Big Three became the Somewhat Significant Duo when the team sent Irving away during the preseason. When a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak ravaged the roster in December, and their All-Star point guard returned (eventually), the Nets had a full-on Two and a Half Men revival on their hands.

Then Durant hurt his knee, Irving insists his stance on vaccination is unwavering. Harden is looking around, wondering why there’s a massive bill on the table and everyone else left the restaurant.

Since returning from health and safety protocols on Christmas Day, the superstar left-hander has looked more like himself. In 16 games, he’s averaged 26.4 points, 10.9 assists, and 8.3 rebounds in 38.2 minutes per game. He’s missed two contests in that span because of lingering hamstring tightness from last season’s injury.

But after sweeping an LA trip in late December, Brooklyn is just 6–10. If the season ended today, not only would it mean something catastrophic occurred in the world, but the Nets would be the fourth seed in the East and face the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. Ouch.

The Brooklyn Nets can’t win a Harden trade this season

Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey engineered the trade for James Harden in the fall of 2012. His successor in the Houston front office, Rafael Stone, traded the three-time scoring champion to the Brooklyn Nets.

Morey made a run at Harden before his eventual move to Brooklyn. Rumors are swirling he wants to package Ben Simmons in a deal to reunite with his longtime Rockets star.

But that reunion isn’t happening before the Feb. 10 trade deadline. Reports out of Philadelphia indicate Simmons needs a few weeks — not days, not a practice or two, but weeks — to get ready to play.

For Brooklyn, a team chasing a championship right now, trading Harden for Simmons borders on self-immolation.

“Yeah, let’s trade our one available superstar for a guy who last played in May and won’t be ready to go until March! How many games is that? Seven, maybe? Oh, we can totally roll with that!”

In what universe is this a title-winning plan?

When the home-standing Nets lost to the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 26, Harden didn’t play because of his hamstring. How many games can Brooklyn give away while tossing out a starting five of LaMarcus Aldridge, James Johnson, Kessler Edwards, DeAndre’ Bembry, and Patty Mills?

The margin for error in the Eastern Conference is razor-thin. Six teams are within 2.5 games of first place.

If anything, the Brooklyn Nets want to add some offensive punch before the deadline or in the buyout market. The idea of trading James Harden is as laughable as it is ludicrous. After all, Billy King hasn’t run the front office for six years.

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference. Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.

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