Add Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report to the long list of basketball writers suggesting that James Harden might wind up somewhere else this summer, except Fischer takes things several steps further. He suggests the Nets superstar wants to explore other options in free agency is “frustrated” with Kyrie Irving’s part-time status, “disappointed” by Steve Nash’s coaching and “not enjoying” his time in New York City.
Fischer writes Tuesday...
Harden remains invested in competing for the title in Brooklyn this season, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. But Harden has recently informed several confidants—including former teammates and coaches—of his interest in exploring other opportunities outside of Brooklyn this summer, league sources told B/R.
“James isn’t going to hold back,” said a person familiar with Harden. “He’s gonna tell you where he stands.”
Harden has been vocal to Nets figures and close contacts alike about his frustrations regarding Kyrie Irving’s part-time playing status. A recent injury to Kevin Durant has exacerbated the issue, leaving Harden to shoulder the majority of the offensive burden during Brooklyn home games.
The frustration doesn’t end there either, Fischer writes...
Nets coach Steve Nash’s fluid rotations have also disappointed Harden, sources told B/R. Nash has favored hot-hand closing lineups, rather than a fixed crunch-time unit.
His new city could also be an issue. According to multiple sources, Harden has not enjoyed living in Brooklyn, compared to his days as a central Houston magnate. Outside of the change in climate, the chasm between state taxes in New York versus Texas is quite obvious as well.
In his pre-game meeting with the media, Nash expressed skepticism about Fischer’s reporting.
“I just heard about these reports and I haven’t spoken to him about any of these things. I’m not sure what to believe. James and I speak all the time and have a great relationship, so I’m not sure the validity of these comments, to be honest.
“We talk about the rotations; that comment seems very strange. We have different guys available pretty much every other night. I don’t see James saying a lot of this stuff and I feel like our relationship has been very good. We’ve worked through a lot of things together this year.”
Post-game Tuesday, Harden also had his own comment.
“I don’t know about any reports,” said Harden. “Of course I’m frustrated because there’s a lot of inconsistency for whatever reason: injuries, COVID, or whatever you want to call it. Everyone in this organization is frustrated because we are better than what our record is and we should be on the way up. That’s all it is. If you didn’t hear it from me, then it’s reports. I’m frustrated because I want to win and I’m a competitor. It’s pretty simple.”
Fischer now joins Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, Marc Stein, the former ESPN and New York Times writer, Brian Windhorst of ESPN and Keith Pompey, the veteran 76ers beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, all of whom have written or spoken of a possible Harden move to Philadelphia to team with Joe Embiid.
Speculation began in October when Harden declined an extension after Sean Marks had earlier said that Harden — and Irving — would be “signed, sealed and delivered” by Opening Night. Harden has a $47 million player option this summer.
The Bleacher Report writer is quick to point out that Harden has not made a trade request and that a trade at the deadline is unlikely. Like the other writers, Fischer speculates about the possibility of a sign-and-trade involving Ben Simmons in the off-season. Unlike the others, he writes there is an “openness” on Harden’s part to join Daryl Morey, his old Rockets GM, in Philly. Previous reports talked more about Morey’s interest in Harden, less about Harden’s interest in the Sixers.
Fischer admits, as have others, that a trade would require a complicated, and probably multi-team sign-and-trade arrangement. The degree of difficulty would be high and he also suggests that the Nets would have to be a “willing participant.”
Of course for any sign-and-trade to happen, Brooklyn would need to be a willing participant. If Harden ever does formally communicate his interest in playing elsewhere this summer, the Nets would likely be hard-pressed to find a greater return for Harden than Simmons, assuming Simmons can rediscover his All-Star form. Simmons, after all, was the Rockets’ runner-up offer for Harden a year ago. And the Sixers have signaled a willingness to attach additional assets to acquire a player such as Harden or Lillard.
Others have speculated that any Harden-for-Simmons deal would have to include draft picks as well as Matisse Thybulle, Philly’s 24-year-old defensive stopper. Philly has all its first rounders — other than a swap with Oklahoma City in 2025 — through 2029.
Fischer, however, disputes that the 76ers are waiting for a possible Harden move in the summer to move Simmons. He says, for example, both Simmons people and the 76ers are monitoring the Wizards’ willingness to move Bradley Beal, among others.
Fischer’s piece comes hours after Keith Pompey, the veteran and respected Philadelphia Inquirer beat writer, had this quote from a “league source.”
At the end of the day, it’s Harden all the way,” said a league source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They want Harden whether they get him now. Whether they get him on a forced sign-and-trade this summer. The Athletic published similar reporting this morning, asserting that the Sixers prefer to wait to pursue Harden or another superstar this offseason.
But the Inquirer’s source thinks this has been the plan for some time.
Pompey also noted this about Harden’s willingness to join Joe Embiid...
Sources said Harden would welcome playing with Embiid if he became a Sixer. The guard had a lot of individual success playing for Morey as a Rocket. Sources say Harden believes he could have similar success playing alongside Embiid. League source believe the Sixers would have to trade Harris, a combo who plays both forward positions, for the Harden and Embiid pairing to work.”
- Sources Explain Why James Harden Would Welcome New Scenery Next Season - Jake Fischer - Bleacher Report
- Harden or bust for the 76ers. Sources indicate the Sixers are all-in even if it means prolonging the Ben Simmons saga - Keith Pompey - Philadelphia Inquirer
- James Harden’s frustration with Kyrie Irving could impact Nets future - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- What’s really going on with James Harden and the 76ers? - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- James Harden pushes back against reports he’s unhappy in Brooklyn: ‘I’m frustrated because we’re not healthy’ - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- James Harden denies reports of unhappiness but admits frustrations in Nets’ loss to Lakers - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic
- James Harden shoots down rumors of being unhappy with Nets: ‘I’m frustrated because I want to win’ - Alex Smith - SNY