In a series of tweets Sunday afternoon, Adrian Wojnarowski breathed air into the possibility of a “Big Three” that would feature Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Although Woj reported the two teams had not yet engaged in trade talks, he tweeted that Harden is interested in in the prospect of joining with KD and Kyrie in Brooklyn ... and forming a superteam.
Word out of Houston is the same: Harden is driving the train to Brooklyn, with the Houston Chronicle reporting that Harden is “trying to force his way out” of Houston.
Woj and ESPN colleagues Ramona Shelburne and Zach Lowe wrote later Sunday that Durant and Harden have spoken about the possibility while working out in Los Angeles in recent weeks.
Here’s the initial Woj bomb...
Sources: The Rockets continue to tell teams that they plan “run it back” with Harden this season. So far, there have been no trade discussions between the Rockets and Nets. https://t.co/wHrTqvCPew— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 15, 2020
Then in their follow-up article, Woj, Shelburne and Lowe wrote this...
The idea of joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn is resonating with Harden, sources said.
Durant and Harden — past teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder — have recently discussed the possibility, but there have yet to be trade discussions between the two front offices.
In fact, Woj, Shelburne and Lowe said those discussions took place in L.A. where Durant and Harden were working out.
The idea of playing together again came up during Harden and Durant’s offseason workouts together in Los Angeles. Sources said the players talked openly about whether the combination could work and how a trade facilitating it could work.
On Monday morning, Woj told David Lloyd on ESPN that it’s Harden who’s pushing the trade...
On SportsCenter, Adrian Wojnarwoski details that a Harden to Brooklyn trade (if executed) would come solely from Harden pushing the Rockets to make that move. That’s the momentum needed to get a deal done. pic.twitter.com/2JWhZuYC4J— Christopher Lavinio (@ChrisLavinio) November 16, 2020
Similarly, Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle reported the same thing from the Rockets’ side of things.
Harden wants to move on from the Rockets, the Chronicle has been informed, and is trying to force his way via trade to Brooklyn, allowing The Beard to form the NBA’s next superteam and rejoin forces with former OKC teammate Kevin Durant.
The possibility of having three of the NBA’s top 10 players in black-and-white has excited some Nets fans —while discouraging others— over the past few days, starting with comments from former NBA players Kendrick Perkins and Jay Williams. Then, on Saturday night, a tweet by Farbod Esnaashari, a Clippers writer, stirred even more excitement among fans of the Nets ... and the NBA.
The acquisition of the 31-year-old Harden would give the Nets two players, he and Durant, who have won seven of the last 11 NBA scoring titles, four by KD and three (the most recent three) by The Beard. Last season, Harden averaged 34.3 points for the Rockets, following seasons of 36.1, the highest number since 1963 and second highest ever, and 30.4. Durant led the league in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014. Unlike Durant and Irving, Harden has never won an NBA title, but like Durant, he has been NBA MVP (as well as Sixth Man of the Year.)
KD and Harden played three years together in OKC. Although Irving and Harden have never played together in the NBA, the two paired up to win Team USA a gold medal in the FIBA World Cup six years ago.
Harden apparently has become discouraged by changes in Houston, where he’s played for the past eight years after playing four with the Thunder. In the past few weeks, the Rockets’ financially pressed owner, Tillman Fertitta, has lost his GM, Daryl Morey, and head coach, Mike D’Antoni who has of course joined the Nets coaching staff as an assistant to Steve Nash. Russell Westbrook, his Rockets teammate, has reportedly already asked for a trade. Only a few days ago, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweeted that Harden was willing to stay.
As Woj, Shelburne and Lowe wrote Sunday...
Harden has been increasingly uneasy about the Rockets ability to compete for an NBA future and has been considering the possibility of pushing to play elsewhere before his contract expires, sources said.
In rumored trade scenarios, the Nets would have to send a combination of young players —Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince and Nicolas Claxton — along with picks to Houston. It’s that return that has left some fans uncertain about a deal. Moreover, the prospect of integrating three superstars with 40 percent usage rates has also raised concerns, particularly with a rookie head coach.
And in fact, the ESPN reporters emphasized while there have been internal discussions, there hadn’t been any talks between the clubs, at least up until Sunday evening.
The Nets are believed to be considering the viability of the idea, but it is unclear how far the franchise would go in delivering Houston the assets it might require to trade for Harden.
Similarly, Ian Begley of SNY suggested that there isn’t “universal support for a Harden-to-Nets deal inside team offices at HSS Training Center.
[A]ccording to SNY sources, the support for such a trade wasn’t universal. People around Harden contacted some Nets players to discuss the possibility of the perennial All-Star joining the team, per SNY sources. Some were supportive, but not all players contacted about a potential Harden-to-Brooklyn deal were in favor of it, sources said.
Harden has three years and $131 million left on his contract. Indeed, Durant, Irving and Harden’s total take through 2022-23 would be in the neighborhood of $350 million, virtually guaranteeing huge luxury tax payments for Joe Tsai ... and a limited amount of cap space to fill out a roster.
Still, it’s difficult to imagine how such a “Big Three” wouldn’t immediately vault the Nets into the lead spot among championship contenders ... and establish them as the team in New York.
SI’s Chris Mannix reported Sunday night that the Nets have been looking at other potential trades in anticipation of Monday’s re-opening of the NBA trade market.
The Nets have engaged multiple teams in trade talks in recent weeks, team and league sources told SI. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving expected to return when the season opens next month, Brooklyn will be a championship contender, and the team has looked to surround its two stars with a strong supporting cast.
Of course, acquiring Harden would be a monumental achievement for Sean Marks and his team who took over a 21-win team, bereft of much NBA talent and no draft picks. a little less than five years ago.
Or as the Pelcians’ Josh Hart tweeted...
I was already over 2020 but if James goes to Brooklyn then I’ll see yall 2022 cause they got 2021— Josh Hart (@joshhart) November 15, 2020
What’s next? With the end of the trade moratorium at 12:01 p.m. ET Monday, the Draft at 7 p.m. ETWednesday and the opening of free agency at 6 p.m. ET Friday, decisions will have to made quickly by the Nets and Rockets.
- Sources: Brooklyn Nets top James Harden’s list of trade destinations - Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne & Zach Lowe - ESPN
- Does a James Harden trade make sense for the Nets and Rockets? - Kevin Pelton - ESPN
- Why the Brooklyn Nets should consider a trade for James Harden - Zach Lowe - ESPN
- Sources: Nets players’ support for potential James Harden trade not universal - Ian Begley - SNY
- James Harden’s Reported Trade Interest Brings Houston to a Crossroads - Chris Mannix - Sports Illustrated
- James Harden has to change to make Nets’ potential Big 3 work - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- James Harden eyeing Nets trade in potential NBA game-changer - Marc Berman - New York Post
- If the Nets have a chance to get James Harden, they must do it - now - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Sports bettors starting to believe in Nets as 2021 NBA title favorites - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks Aggressive Enough To Add James Harden, But Would Star Trio Work? - Mike Mazzeo - Forbes Sports Money
- Time for Rockets to dictate future with James Harden - Brian T. Smith - Houston Chronicle
- James Harden Trade Rumors: Kevin Durant Reunion with Nets ‘Resonating’ with Star - Paul Kasabian - Bleacher Report
- James Harden trade rumors: Why the Nets shouldn’t deal for the former league MVP who wants to play for them - Sam Quinn - CBS Sports
- Report: James Harden wants Rockets to trade him to Nets = Dan Feldman - NBC Sports