The Brooklyn Nets’ decision to trade James to the Philadelphia 76ers ahead of this year’s NBA Trade Deadline sent massive reverberations throughout the entire league.
It’s uncommon to see a talent of Harden’s level get moved. Even rarer? Someone of Harden’s pedigree getting traded twice in two years.
This week, ahead of the Nets’ looming showdown against the 76ers, Kevin Durant offered an interesting take on why Harden so desperately wanted out of Brooklyn.
For obvious reasons, many are viewing it as something of a backhanded shot at his former teammate.
“You can try to look at it from his perspective,” Durant said, of why Harden wanted to start over. “Ky’s not playing, and I’m injured. He hasn’t won a championship before.”
Obviously the first part of Durant’s assessment is super rational. It’s true that Harden’s frustration with having to carry the Nets was justified, particularly given that he specifically came to Brooklyn to be part of a Big Three.
That said, the second part is clearly a shot. Pointing out Harden’s lack of playoff success wasn’t exactly essential in that context.
And it would make sense that Durant would be salty. He and Harden seemed to have legit beef. After all, his initial reaction to the trade was pretty telling.
Harden, for what it’s worth, doesn’t seem to be fretting his looming showdown against his old squad too much.
“No. I’m not nervous,” he said. “It’s basketball. I put the work in to go out there and just play my game and live with the results. Honestly, every game is a big game for us. We’re fairly new. We got championship aspirations so every game is a learning process for us no matter who we’re playing.”
Between his issues with Durant and lingering beef with Kyrie Irving, Harden is probably somewhat oversimplifying the dynamic at hand heading into his game against Brooklyn.
Paige kept it real. https://t.co/8gO0TGLONW
— Game 7 (@game7__) March 9, 2022
That said, this showdown will be telling. The Nets and Sixers are two of the most stacked teams in the East. And whichever one ultimately proves itself better has a very good shot at representing the conference in the NBA Finals.
Which squad that ultimately be?
Time will tell.