The NBA world was shaken to its core ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline. James Harden was moved from the Brooklyn Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, abandoning superstar teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the process.
Harden’s unhappiness with the Nets has intensified over the last few weeks, forcing Brooklyn’s hand in making a deal. That shouldn’t sit well with his former teammates, Durant in particular.
Fortunately, KD didn’t have to wait long to exact his revenge. Mere hours after the trade was agreed upon, Durant went on national television and insulted his former running mate without mentioning his name one time.
James Harden forced his way off of the Brooklyn Nets
A little over a year ago, Harden orchestrated his departure from the Houston Rockets. Now, he’s done the same thing to a Nets team that went all-in on acquiring him.
Leading up to the deadline, reports surfaced claiming Harden was interested in testing free agency. Though that soon advanced to full-blown stories about the agony of playing in Brooklyn. It also doesn’t help the three-time scoring champ was reportedly displeased with Irving’s decision to abstain from the COVID-19 vaccine.
In the end, Harden got his wish. The 32-year-old was traded to the 76ers for Simmons, who’s been involved in plenty of drama of his own. In addition to Simmons, Brooklyn acquired Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, a 2022 unprotected first-round pick, and a 2027 protected first for Harden and veteran Paul Millsap.
The 29-25 Nets managed to secure multiple players and draft picks for a star they felt was going to leave this summer. This way, they can stay alive in the title race despite sitting in the eight-seed entering Thursday.
Kevin Durant insults James Harden without mentioning his name
The league couldn’t have picked a better time for the Harden deal to go down. Just a few hours after the deadline, Durant and LeBron James took part in the NBA All-Star Draft, aired live on TNT.
Both captains traded picks and formed their teams ahead of the big game on Feb. 20 in Cleveland, Ohio. Harden, selected to his 10th All-Star Game, was one of the players available.
By the end of the draft, Harden and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert were the final two players remaining. Durant, in his second stint as All-Star captain, had the pick.
You can probably guess where this is going (h/t: Inside the NBA).
“Imma need some size, for sure. Imma need some size and some defense in the interior. Especially with Giannis and LeBron James playing such great basketball this year. I need somebody to offset that, so I’m going to go with Rudy Gobert.”Kevin Durant
The TNT panel could barely contain their laughter throughout Durant’s pick. LeBron, who ended up with Harden by default, hid his laughter with a clipboard. The entire situation was hilarious from start to finish … unless you’re James Harden, of course.
Durant gave a very politically-correct answer when asked directly about Harden
Considering today’s events, it would have been highly irresponsible for Ernie Johnson and the rest of the TNT crew to not ask Durant about the trade. Fortunately, the future Hall of Famer obliged. He just didn’t offer anything truly interesting.
“I’m excited for our team,” Durant said. “Looking forward to finishing the season out with this new group and these new players. … I think everybody got what they wanted.”
Durant managed to make it through the rest of the show without having to answer much more about Harden. But he did have to endure one more joke from Charles Barkley after LeBron sarcastically asked if the Beard was healthy.
“He got traded, he’s healthy now!” Barkley exclaimed. “He’s rubbing some Icy Hot on that thing, he’s playing the next game!”
Even though Durant won’t be suiting up for the All-Star Game, any interaction he has with Harden that night should be fascinating, to say the least.