The Houston Rockets put an end to the James Harden trade drama by sending the 2018 MVP to the Brooklyn Nets, reuniting The Beard with former Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant. Harden is now on a contending team with KD, who won two titles and two Finals MVPs with the Golden State Warriors.
Speaking of the Warriors, Steve Kerr’s group reportedly had some interest in acquiring Harden from the Rockets before Houston dealt the lefty to the Nets. A three-time scoring champion, Harden was focused on playing for the Nets, who are legitimate title contenders with Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Harden leading the way.
While the Warriors are happy James Harden is out of the Western Conference, they can’t be pleased that Kevin Durant supposedly told his pal he wouldn’t enjoy playing for Steve Kerr in Golden State.
Kevin Durant didn’t like playing for Steve Kerr
Despite winning two rings and two Finals MVPs with the Warriors, Kevin Durant reportedly didn’t enjoy playing for Steve Kerr. After KD signed his four-year deal with the Nets in the summer of 2019, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported that Durant “wasn’t feeling” Kerr at all.
“KD’s relationship with Steve Kerr was not good,” Smith said. “And I’m not saying Steve Kerr did anything, I’m not saying there was some fallout. From what I was told, KD was not feeling Steve Kerr at all.”
Durant has been on record saying he felt like an outsider on the Warriors and that Kerr’s motion offense only worked from time to time. It has been strange to hear the former MVP, who averaged 25.8 points in 208 regular-season games with the Dubs, talk so weirdly about his time with the Warriors.
James Harden didn’t have a no-trade clause with the Rockets, but the belief is that Houston wanted to trade the future Hall of Famer to a place he desired since Harden did so much for the franchise. The Warriors checked in with the Rockets about a possible Harden trade, but Houston and Golden State weren’t able to reach a deal.
The Warriors probably didn’t have the assets to acquire Harden from the Rockets, who completed a four-team trade with the Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Indiana Pacers to acquire Victor Oladipo, four first-round picks, four pick swaps, and Dante Exum. However, it appears Kevin Durant played a role in James Harden not wanting to play for Golden State.
Kevin Durant told James Harden he might not want to play for Steve Kerr
According to The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo, Kevin Durant told James Harden he might not want to play for Steve Kerr and the Warriors. While this report hasn’t been confirmed by the Warriors or anyone in Harden or Durant’s camp, it’s worth mentioning since KD’s icy relationship with Kerr has been well-documented.
“I heard he, um … he was not … he and [Kevin] Durant are close, and Durant wanted him to leave (Houston),” Russillo said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “So I think there was some communication … that you might not want to play for him. Which sounds insane that Durant could complain about anything with Golden State, but it sounds like he did.”
Kevin Durant and James Harden definitely communicated during the latter’s trade request from the Rockets. The former Sixth Man of the Year is relieved his trade request was granted and that he’s playing with KD again. Once this rumor gets to them, the Warriors will continue to be puzzled as to why Durant keeps talking negatively about Steve Kerr and Co. after helping him win two championships.
James Harden recorded a 30-point triple-double in his Nets debut
In his first game with the Nets, James Harden recorded a triple-double. He put up 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 14 assists in 39 minutes of action. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant scored 42 points on 61.5% shooting from the field, helping the Nets defeat the Orlando Magic by a final score of 122-115.
The Nets are the favorite to win the Eastern Conference after acquiring Harden, while the Rockets and Warriors will struggle to make the playoffs in the rugged Western Conference.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.