“What can you say to Brooklyn nets fans who are looking forward to a season where you guys are expected to have a great one” one reporter asked James Harden during the off season. “Scary hours” he replied. The fantasy and overwhelming prediction from the media that the last two teams standing would be the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers after the Lakers had acquired Russell Westbrook.
Since the beginning of the season we’ve witnessed the domino effect one after the other with the Brooklyn Nets. Kyrie didn’t fill the nyc vaccination mandate so he was unable to practice nor play games with the team. It altered their preseason plans in regards to lineups so coach Steve Nash was experimenting with different lineups. James Harden feels even to this very day the new NBA rule changes as far as drawing fouls. Still dealing with the recurring hamstring injury from last year. Also figuring out his role on offense with his team without the services of Kyrie. They’ve had success this season but still struggle to beat some of the .500 teams and are still the favorites to come out the east. Since the beginning of January Brooklyn allowed Kyrie to come back part time with the team on the road. Since being in the lineup the Brooklyn nets are 4-5 with kyrie. Kevin Durant suffered an mcl sprain on January 15th against the Pelicans and is expected to be out within 4-6 weeks. Now, this past week it’s been reported by Jake Fischer that James Harden is unhappy with the team and will test free agency this upcoming summer.
According to ESPN insider Bobby Marks, there’s a few teams this summer with cap space. Orlando , Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Detroit. Even though those teams have players of their own to take care of, those teams listed aren’t championship contender teams. James has a few options where he can pick up his player option with the nets and sign a four year extension up to $270 million. He can opt out his player option and still sign a four extension. He can also pick up his player option and ask for a trade to a team of his choice. Or he has an option to do a straight sign and trade with another team.
Around the league NBA reporter Marc Stein reports allegedly executives in nba believe the Philadelphia 76ers will possibly hold all star Ben Simmons past the trade deadline into the summer for a sign and trade scenario with Brooklyn. The question is are there any possibilities that James Harden will leave box office teammates like Kyrie Irving and the best player in the world in Kevin Durant ?
Since his arrival to Brooklyn in a blockbuster trade from Houston last year, Harden has never made a public commitment to stay in Brooklyn. Kyrie is one of the most skilled point guards , closer and finisher in the league. But he is a man who stands by his morals and uses his platform to help other people within the community. The problem is as rapper Q-Tip once said “ the hardest part about being in a group is constantly considering someone else even before yourself”. His stance on not being vaccinated cannot be judged but if you’re a part of a team with championship aspirations and being the intrical part where 14 other guys count on you sacrifices have to be made. But making a sacrifice is a choice and it’s Kyrie’s choice not to be vaccinated. Things can change towards the playoff season this year whether Kyrie changes his mind or nyc changes it’s mandate rules. With these reports allegedly about James harden stance with Brooklyn there’s definitely a sense of urgency to win the championship this year.
Culture matters to certain players, players need the fans’ energy to add to their adrenaline rush for games and Vice versa. As someone born and raised in Brooklyn, Brooklyn has no culture. The last time the Nets as a franchise won a championship was in 1976 when their home games were in Long Island led by superstar Julius Erving in the ABA. In the NBA , they haven’t won any championship yet and share the same city with the most valuable team in sports today with the Knicks. Culture is the people who ride and die for their city and team , contender or not it’s the people that can draw stars to play for them. Just because there’s celebrities sitting court side in the arena doesn’t mean a culture is set in that particular city. Who can forget the matchup on Nov. 16 2021 between Brooklyn Nets vs Golden State Warriors. Where it literally felt like a home game for Golden State where fans were cheering for them especially Stephen Curry. You can make a legitimate argument before KD and Kyrie arrived in Brooklyn in 2019, there was something establishing going on with Kenny Atkinson as the head coach. Alongside players like D’angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen ,Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Caris Levert, Taurean Prince, etc. The way they played for each other and celebrated on the sidelines for one another in games. Guys like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving who are pure hoopers who just love to play the game of basketball haven’t fully embraced The Little Caribbean City of Brooklyn’s culture for people to gravitate towards.
If you’re Brooklyn, it would be a bad look if you let Harden go for nothing. This is a team who gave up their future to acquire the former mvp. Giving up great talents like Caris Levert , Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince and Rodions Kurucs. Including 3 first round picks and four first round pick swaps for Harden. Let’s say for example Harden chooses to go to Philadelphia this summer in a sign and trade with Brooklyn in exchange for Ben Simmons. If you’re Brooklyn you have to ask yourself, you are already dealing with Kyrie and NYC vaccine mandates that’s getting national attention. Can you trust Ben Simmons would want to play for your franchise if he’s willing to sit out the entire season with the Sixers ? Simmons has his reasons that can’t be ignored for why he doesn’t want to play, but he does have preferred destinations on where he would want to play. Not to mention he is still on his $177 million dollar contract, and you already re-up KD and we still don’t know if they’re going to re-up Irving. Not a lot cache to improve the roster at this particular moment in time except for the possibilities of trading guys like Joe Harris and Nicolas Claxton for another veteran shooter or some forward depth. Paul Millsap, who the nets are currently shopping for, hasn’t contributed much for them so far this season and seeks a bigger role on another team. Let’s not forget GM of the Sixers Daryl Morey and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai encountered a few years back in 2019 with Morey’s comments about China. Tsai could have a bad taste in his mouth about that incident, so a simple sign and trade scenario won’t be as easy as people think. Only time will tell what the Brooklyn nets will do by the trade deadline, but beyond the deadline the urgency to win it all is now.