James Harden has played the good soldier role throughout his short stint with the Brooklyn Nets, but his patience appears to be running thin.
The 32-year-old signed a massive $171 million contract with the Houston Rockets in 2019. While the money involved in the deal is what garnered the most attention when he agreed to it, Harden also made sure to include another important clause: a player option in 2022.
Harden can leave the Nets after this year – and it is beginning to look like that is precisely what he will do.
Or at the very least, he will explore every possible option to do so.
According to Bleacher Report NBA insider Jake Fischer, several factors have led to Harden’s muted dissatisfaction with the Nets. Chief among them: disliking Brooklyn as a stomping grounds, the fact that Kyrie Irving was permitted to be a part-time player and Steve Nash’s overall approach.
“His new city could also be an issue,” Fischer wrote. “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.”
But it’s not just a locale issue.
“Harden has been vocal to Nets figures and close contacts alike about his frustrations regarding Kyrie Irving’s part-time playing status,” Fischer continued.
“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.”
Obviously, one massive frontrunner has quietly emerged as the favorite to land Harden if does ultimately opt to leave the Nets. Time will tell if that is where he ultimately ends up when it’s all said and done, though.
It is worth remembering, Harden forcing his way out of Houston was a pretty massive NBA storyline just one year ago. You had one team go so far as to hire a private investigator to gather intel on his various off-the-court activities.
Now he appears to be on the outs with the Nets.
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 23, 2022
It will be interesting to see where things go from here. When Brooklyn acquired Harden, clearly the front office hoped to build a long-lasting dynasty with the move.
Based on what’s coming out now, though – that no longer seems like a particularly viable option.