So apparently James Harden didn’t pick his trading destination in the deal that sent him to the Brooklyn Nets last January. If you had asked most people, including those in the media, how that trade went, no doubt most would have told you that Harden chose to play with old OKC friend Kevin Durant and get a new one. big three along with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. But now Harden tells us that going to Brooklyn wasn’t his choice.
“I wish it worked that way. An organization should do what’s best for their team… it didn’t work that way. I had to go to Brooklyn.”
When news of Harden’s departure from Houston was announced last year, it was easy to put two and two together when we found out he was going to be playing with the Nets and former teammate Durant. It felt like the move made sense for Harden and Durant at the time. I attributed it to another case of NBA players exercising their power to make a big deal happen to compete for a title.
Now we know that was not the case, said Harden. I’m not surprised it didn’t work though. I was always unsure about the mix of Harden and Irving, whether it was basketball related or just a personal conflict. It just looked like it was going to be a volatile situation, as it ended up being. Even more surprising were reports that Harden and Durant were not on the same page. Many people thought their history would make an easy transition once Harden arrived. That is clearly not what happened. Their OKC Thunder days were nearly a decade in the rearview mirror at the time. Both players had grown and changed dramatically during that time. So, heard there was a collision between Harden and KD isn’t that far-fetched considering the personalities and styles involved.
I’ll be honest, I don’t believe Harden had any input in determining where he was traded when 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 patiently waited for his trade to complete. Come on. I’m sure he would have loved to join Daryl Morey in Philadelphia last year, but this all happened before the Ben Simmons playoffs debacle. So that might have been harder to pull off at the time without swapping Simmons or Joel Embiid for Harden.
On paper, it looks like the 76ers are a top contender in the Eastern Conference after the Harden trade. But what’s on paper and what happens in reality can be incredibly different scenarios. Anyway, Harden is true he wants to be now, and the NBA world is waiting to see how he and Embiid fit together on the field. Hopefully the Sixers have paid close attention and don’t fall into the same trap that the Nets did with Harden.