So, apparently, James Harden didn’t pick and choose his trade destination in the deal that sent him to the Brooklyn Nets last January. If you’d asked most people, including those in the media, about how that trade went down, most would undoubtedly have told you that Harden chose to play with old OKC buddy Kevin Durant and form a new big three along with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. But now Harden tells us going to Brooklyn wasn’t his choice.
“I wish it worked like that. An organization has to do what’s best for their team…it didn’t work like that. I had to go to Brooklyn.”
When the news of Harden’s departure from Houston was announced last year, it was easy to put two and two together once we found out he was going to play with the Nets and former teammate Durant. It felt like the move made sense for Harden and Durant at the time. I chalked it up to having been another case of NBA players wielding their power to make a big deal happen to compete for a title.
Now we know this was not the case, according to Harden. However, I’m not shocked that it didn’t work out. I was always unsure about the mix of Harden and Irving, whether it was basketball-related or just a personality clash. It just seemed like that was going to be a volatile situation as it ended up being. The reports of Harden and Durant not being on the same page was more surprising. Many people thought their history would make for an easy transition once Harden arrived. Obviously, that isn’t what happened. Their OKC Thunder days were nearly a decade in the rearview by that point. Both players had grown and changed drastically over that time. So, hearing there was a clash between Harden and KD isn’t that far-fetched considering the personalities and styles involved.
I’ll be honest, I’m not buying this notion that Harden had zero input in determining where he was traded upon leaving the Rockets. We all know the power that star players in the NBA possess. Harden makes it sound like he just sat back and waited patiently for his trade to be finalized. Come on. I’m sure he would’ve loved to join Daryl Morey in Philly last year, but this was all unfolding before the Ben Simmons playoff debacle. So, that may have been tougher to pull off at the time without swapping out Simmons or Joel Embiid for Harden.
On paper, it looks like the 76ers are a top contender in the eastern conference following the Harden trade. But what’s on paper and what happens, in reality, can be incredibly different scenarios. Either way, Harden is where he wants to be now, and the NBA world is waiting to see how he and Embiid fit together on the court. Hopefully, the Sixers have paid attention and don’t fall into the same traps that befell the Nets with Harden.