Report: James Harden wants to explore 'opportunities outside of Brooklyn this summer'
James Harden being traded to the Brooklyn Nets last January was supposed to set up several years of dominance with three big stars in the lead. Instead, the triumvirate might crumble before it ever really got off the ground.
According to Jake Fischer at Bleacher Report, Harden might be ready to move on from the Nets once the season is over.
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.
Harden is still reportedly invested in winning a title with the Nets. It's not known if Harden would stay around in Brooklyn if that actually happened this year.
Harden is reportedly unhappy in Brooklyn
There are several reasons Harden might want to leave Brooklyn, according to Fischer. He's reportedly "disappointed" with head coach Steve Nash's late-game strategies, and frustrated by teammate Kyrie Irving only playing part time due to his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
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.
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.
When asked about the report before Tuesday's game, Nash said he talks to Harden a lot and these issues have not come up.
Steve Nash said his relationship with James Harden is strong and said he hasn't heard any issues with rotations. #Nets
— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) January 25, 2022
Harden also is reportedly not thrilled with actually living in Brooklyn.
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.
Could Harden go to the Sixers?
The news of Harden's unhappiness in Brooklyn came just one day after new rumors surfaced about a possible Harden-Ben Simmons swap with the Philadelphia 76ers. While the Sixers could trade Simmons before the upcoming deadline (and are still reportedly exploring that option), Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that Sixers GM Daryl Morey is more interested in waiting until the summer when they could make a move for Harden.
But multiple sources, including people with direct knowledge of the team’s thinking and also from rival teams involved on the Simmons front, tell The Athletic that the 76ers are believed to prefer to wait in order to pursue Harden or another superstar in the offseason and thus want to save Simmons for that potential sign-and-trade rather than take what’s available on the current market.
This is far from the first time we've heard about the Sixers having an interest in Harden. Before the 2020-21 season began, when Harden was still with the Houston Rockets, the Sixers reportedly tried to swing a Harden-Simmons trade. It never happened, and Harden ended up with the Nets instead.
If the Sixers hold on to Simmons through the trade deadline, that almost guarantees we'll hear more about a possible Morey-Harden reunion over the summer. Morey, the former GM of the Rockets, had a great relationship with Harden in Houston, and with big man Joel Embiid playing as well as he ever has, Harden would fit right in.
Could Harden be joining Simmons, 76ers?