The biggest deal of the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline saw James Harden getting traded from the Brooklyn Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers.
A lot was made of the move, for obvious reasons. It’s rare to see a superstar of Harden’s caliber getting dealt multiple times in a two-year span.
In the days since the trade, an assortment of details regarding what led up to it emerged.
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, various players on Brooklyn’s roster didn’t vibe with Harden at all.
“Kevin [Durant] and James had a cold war going for the last several months that made everyone miserable,” one person with knowledge of the situation told Fischer.
How bad did it get? So bad that it was an open secret around the NBA, apparently.
“Come December, word started to percolate around the NBA about a mounting disconnect between Harden and Durant, which was buoyed by Irving’s absence,” the report noted.
“…As winter arrived, Nets personnel started telling rival team contacts of the troubling dynamic between Durant and Harden, venting during social gatherings and pregame activities. Harden’s poor conditioning didn’t help his slow adjustment to the NBA’s new foul changes.
“Durant and [Steve] Nash wanted a free-flowing offense, which Mike D’Antoni had helped install last season, but Harden preferred his patented iso ball. Brooklyn coaches noticed Harden would roll his eyes when an after-timeout play was designed for Durant, sources said.”
And it wasn’t just a Durant thing. Multiple Nets players, it would appear, actively disliked Harden.
Kinda wild nonetheless because the Nets very rarely — if at all — kicked a guy out the door on his way out under Sean Marks. Not with Harden.
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) February 15, 2022
In hindsight, Durant’s brutally honest response to the Harden trade speaks volumes now.
As does the speed with which the Nets opted to throw Harden under the bus after his departure.
“It wasn’t lost on teammates that Harden continued his late-night social habits, especially on the Nets’ last Western Conference trip this month,” ESPN NBA insiders Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week.
“His play, often dispassionate and sloppy, culminated with a four-point performance in a loss to the lowly Sacramento Kings. Maybe Harden could keep this lifestyle up in his 20s, but it wasn’t working now. For a player purporting to have a hand and hamstring injury, this wasn’t inspiring confidence within a team in freefall.”
No wonder trading Harden prior to the deadline became such a priority.
Seems like a fun Valentine’s Day celebration. https://t.co/CZF80vdaln
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 15, 2022
The Nets are now moving past the Harden debacle, and focusing on what they have in newly-acquired Ben Simmons. Nash’s comments on his shooting woes speak volumes about how the team sees him.
In terms of good attitude, though – the bar seems to be pretty low. If Simmons shows up even somewhat motivated and willing to contribute, it sounds like he will be a far better fit in Brooklyn than Harden ever was.