Things are changing.
Adrian Wojnarowski, who has been steadfast in saying that the Nets and 76ers have not had “meaningful” discussions about a James Harden, now says that the Nets superstar wants out of Brooklyn and he expects more fulsome “communications” between the two teams by today’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
Harden's hopeful Morey secures trade for him today, but Morey and Sean Marks have yet to become engaged in serious dialogue on a deal. There’s an expectation sides will talk today and possibility of deal remains. Both teams are left measuring the risk-reward of a Harden deal now. https://t.co/WeyG7q8Eee— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 10, 2022
In an ESPN story posted at 8:30 a.m., Woj added...
A trade may hinge on Morey’s willingness to include assets, beyond exiled guard Ben Simmons, needed to persuade the Nets to unload Harden against the cost of creating the salary-cap space to sign Harden in summer free agency. Philadelphia could re-engage the Nets on an opt-in and trade strategy in the offseason, too.
Similarly, on Get Up, Woj said the two sides have yet to have serious discussions but that will almost certainly change.
“I do think we will see Brooklyn and Philadelphia communicate in some level. No real communication has gone on, but Philadelphia are motivated to acquire James Harden,” said Woj. “There is risk reward for both teams, there is a lot at stake here.”
The comments were more in line with what his colleague Brian Windhorst has been saying the past several days and different from what he said Wednesday in appearances on ESPN. In those appearances, ESPN’s lead NBA writer said the Nets seemed content to give their “Big Three” a chance to come together in the closing weeks of the NBA season and try for an NBA title.
“They’ve been apart, they’ve been separated because of the injuries and I think right now that you don’t rule out the possibility that anything can happen leading up to the trade deadline, Brooklyn and Philadelphia are not engaged in anything meaningful, I’m told.”
On Thursday, Windhorst also hinted at a split between Kevin Durant and Harden, saying on Get Up....
“If Durant and Harden have a conversation that they can go all in on the championship this year they shouldn’t make the trade. But Kevin Durant traveled with the team to Washington and Harden remained in Brooklyn.”
Asked what about if Harden is unhappy, isn’t that issue for Brooklyn, Woj compared Harden’s current situation with the Nets to that of Kawhi Leonard’s with the Raptors in 2019.
“They’ll just treat James Harden — if his plans are to leave — treat it like the way Toronto treated Kawhi Leonard and say, ‘This is probably a one-shot deal. We want to win a championship. Our best chance is to do that’ and who knows what happens when Harden gets back with Kevin Durant, they start playing together again the way they had planned to from the beginning.”
WIndhorst, of course, has been touting the possibility of a trade — and suggesting the two sides were in negotiations. On Wednesday’s Get Up, Windhorst was definitive...
“The sides are absolutely talking, absolutely negotiating. [Tuesday], the 76ers were out looking for other moves. Talking to other teams about other moves. Moving players. Opening roster spots. Leading those teams to believe they were getting ready to make the other deal.
“They have swapped offers. Really right now, it’s about haggling the ancillary parts.”
Harden of course has now missed three straight games amid rumors that his hamstring and hand issues are not bad enough to put him on the bench. To that effect, Stephen A. Smith said Thursday morning the 10-time All-Star wants out.
“What we know is… from what the people that I’ve spoken to… he wants out of Brooklyn, he does not want to be there. Now he hasn’t completely gone nuclear the way that he did in Houston, where he’s showing up late or refusing to show up at all, or what have you. One executive described it to me as him being at a 60% level.
No word yet on what the parameters of a deal might be, although a number of names have surfaced as Nets targets, primarily Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle and Seth Curry.
There are also rumors out of Toronto that the Nets are interested in bringing in Goran Dragic, the veteran point guard, with one writer suggesting there could be larger trade with the Raptors involving Joe Harris.
The Nets have made no comment on the rumors or the state of any trade negotiations other than Steve Nash’s comments two days ago that he expects no change to the roster by tonight’s game vs. the Wizards in Washington.
Nash reiterated that Thursday morning in talking with beat writers.
“I still feel the same way. Nothing’s changed. I have no reason to believe things have changed. I still feel the same way,” said Nash.
He also said that that while he hasn’t spoken with Harden on recent rumors, he believes that Harden still wants to be in Brooklyn.
”He’s not told me he doesn’t want to stay. So I’m working off our conversations, which is he wants to be here and we want him here.”
Meanwhile in Philly, Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice has reiterated that Tyrese Maxey is a non-starter for the Sixers and that they would rather not give up either Matisse Thybulle or Seth Curry either...
The Sixers have protected young guard Tyrese Maxey throughout discussions with the Nets, and Matisse Thybulle is a player they would like to keep in almost all scenarios here. Seth Curry is viewed as the best available secondary piece in a Simmons-Harden swap, sources say, though there has been pushback from Sixers sources on Curry as well. The overarching theme is that these teams both believe they can play hardball — the Sixers are threatening to acquire Harden this summer without needing to compensate Brooklyn at all, and the Nets have tried to convince the Sixers they can still make a title run with this group and ultimately convince Harden to stay.
Over the last few days, there has been more noise regarding the possibility of signing Harden outright leaking out of the organization.