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Clarity on the James Harden ‘situation?’ Fugget About It!

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2019 NBA All-Star Game Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

If you were looking for clarity on the James Harden “situation” Tuesday, you were out of luck. Kevin Durant denied recruiting Harden while a YES Network analyst said Harden has demanded a trade to Brooklyn ... but suggested that the only way he thinks a deal goes down if it’s Harden for Kyrie Irving.

Meanwhile, Jon Feigen, the Houston Chronicle’s Rocket beat writer, threw cold water on the possibility that the Rockets would trade the NBA’s top scorer this year at all, which mirrors what Shams Charania had told the “Load Management” podcast on Complex.com.

KD strongly denied recruiting Harden and even accused reporters of making up the story.

“I heard all the noise that James potentially wanted to come to the Nets, but anyone can make up stories, anyone can write a story and it gets some traction,” Durant told the media on Tuesday afternoon. “Nothing’s ever set in stone until it’s set in stone. So I’ve never thought too much about it, just focused on myself and my teammates probably did the same thing, and we just move forward.”

Although the Nets superstar didn’t specify which story or stories he believed were flawed, the first big story suggesting that the two were talking about forming a super team was an ESPN report on November 15. In that report, Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne and Zach Lowe said the discussions took place in L.A. where Durant and Harden were working out. Here’s the specifics, as reported by the three writers.

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.

Indeed Ian Eagle said on The Athletic’s NBA preview that the narrative about Harden’s desire to join the Nets had emanated from Houston, perhaps from “Harden’s camp.”

On Tuesday morning, Frank Isola, speaking on Sirius XM NBA’s “The Starting Lineup,” said Harden has told the Rockets that he wants to be traded to Brooklyn and that if he’s the Nets front office, he’s only doing a deal if it involves Kyrie Irving.

“We had that confirmed by somebody pretty plugged in that Harden definitely wants out. And he told them trade me to Brooklyn. And I’m only doing it if I’m the Nets if I can trade Kyrie Irving,” said Isola who’s also a YES Network Nets analyst.

Isola’s colleague on “The Starting Lineup,” Brian Scalabrine said he believes that the Rockets would trade Harden for Irving but doesn’t believe the Nets would go along.

“I don’t think it’s true, but I know people say this,” Scalabrine said, responding to the idea that the Nets would only do a deal involve Irving, adding that the Rockets would. “That they would do it if they could get Kyrie. The Rockets would do it if they could get Kyrie.

“I think that’s insanely stupid to do. James Harden for Kyrie Irving? I can’t imagine that happening. But a lot of people are like, ‘No, they want Kyrie.’ How is that possible?’”

Finally, Jonathan Feigen, the Rockets long time beat writer, told Mike Scotto of Hoopshype that thinks he doesn’t think the Rockets will trade Harden anywhere this season. He’s not so sure about Russell Westbrook.

“Harden, I’d say no. Let’s talk again next summer,” said Feigen. “Westbrook, my gosh, I don’t know. I guess no, just because it’s hard to get a deal they would find sufficient. If you’re betting on them trading him, you’re not only betting that, yes, they’ll want to, you’re also betting on yes they can and get what they want. I think those two things add up to more likely that he’s not.”

So what to expect? Sean Marks wouldn’t discuss specifics of his roster on the Nets Zoom call with media, but he made it clear he’s always ready to look at potential moves, big or small.

“We’re going to have to be fluid with our roster,” Marks told reporters. “I look forward to getting with the coaches and with our front office and really debating as we go through training camp and see where we need to make changes — whether it’s on the periphery of the roster, or we make some bigger moves.”

Harden is expected to speak Wednesday or Thursday in Houston. While players can privately seek a trade, if they make that demand public, as Mike Mazzeo tweeted Wednesday, they risk a $50,000 fine.