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Fischer: ‘Nets eager to upgrade its roster ahead of the trade deadline’

Brooklyn Nets v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report writes Tuesday that the Nets are active in discussions leading up to the unofficial start of trade season on Wednesday and “surprisingly” are willing to talk about moving Joe Harris, but the price would be high.

For now, Brooklyn stands atop the Eastern Conference, and moving Harden for Simmons makes little sense for Sean Marks’ braintrust, especially as Kyrie Irving remains inactive. Yet Brooklyn appears eager to upgrade its roster ahead of the trade deadline and Harden’s impending free agency. It’s clear these Nets are not the juggernaut title favorite that entered training camp.

Specifically, Fischer pointed to Harris, Irving and Nic Claxton as players the Nets might be willing to part with, depending on what’s being offered in return. However, he noted that with Irving, there’s been no “significant traction.”

Brooklyn has been open to discussing trades for Irving, sources told B/R, although none of those calls have seemed to generate significant traction. But Brooklyn has expressed a surprising willingness to discuss sharpshooter Joe Harris, according to league sources, though he would surely require a pricey offer. “It’s crazy to me; he’s their only real three-and-D player,” said one assistant general manager. “But his name keeps popping up.”

Harris, of course, is out for the next several weeks with a sprained ankle. Steve Nash has said his rehab has been going well, but didn’t provide any timetable for his return. Harris is the longest-serving Nets player.

But on Wednesday, in a podcast with Michael Scotto of Hoopshype, Fischer took a step back ... on Harris.

I put in my story a quote from an assistant general manager saying that Joe Harris’ name being available keeps popping up… I heard from someone in Brooklyn today since my story came out that they did push back on him being available. Perhaps, teams who had early conversations with Brooklyn about Joe and they didn’t categorically shut them down, maybe that’s all this was. It’s early, and Brooklyn was kind of open and listening… They didn’t say anything about Nicolas Claxton. His name has been out there since the draft.

Fischer also discussed how the Nets could use their three trade exceptions — of $11.5 million, $6.3 million and $3.6 million — in getting a bigger return for Claxton who makes $1.8 million this season.

Rival executives believe Nic Claxton could become available, as the Nets quietly gauged his value during the 2021 draft. The third-year forward has performed well for Brooklyn, but ahead of Claxton’s restricted free agency this summer, rival executives believe he could be the outgoing player Brooklyn trades to take back a veteran into either the roughly $6 million trade exception from moving DeAndre Jordan or the $11.5 million trade exception from Spencer Dinwiddie’s sign-and-trade to Washington.

Long-term, Fischer speculated, as have others, on a 76ers possible bid for James Harden who decided against extending his contract during the off-season and has a player option for next season. He includes the possibility of a sign-and-trade involving Ben Simmons.

James Harden declined a contract extension with Brooklyn earlier this season and would certainly become a key target for the Sixers if he were to reach the open market next summer.

The possibility of landing Harden has quietly hung over the Simmons dynamic all along. Philadelphia nearly shipped Simmons to Houston for Harden back in January, an outcome Harden was known around the league to have welcomed. If a strong enough deal for Simmons never comes Philadelphia’s way this season, there have been ongoing whispers about a free-agency sign-and-trade for Simmons that would allow Harden to join forces with Embiid, and rejoin Daryl Morey.

Harden praised the Nets organization just before the season began — even though he decided against signing an extension.

“I love it here. Myself, Joe [Tsai], Clara [Tsai], Sean [Marks], the front office, Steve [Nash] and from top to bottom, the communication has been unbelievable and amazing,” said Harden on October 20. “I feel at home so. I just want to focus on this year and that’s it.”

By postponing his extension, Harden will have the option of signing a more lucrative contract next summer.