The Brooklyn Nets are in a peculiar space within the confines of the NBA. Considering their roster makeup, they are toeing the line between contender and pretender. The speed at which they are toeing this line can dramatically increase or decrease with the status of James Harden’s contract situation.
For a macro-level view of where the Nets stand within the Eastern Conference, Brooklyn is in fourth place, though are tied with the current fifth and sixth seeds.
They’re two games behind first, while also two and a half games above the seventh seed. That would require them to participate in the play-in scenario. Given the sheer talent and name recognition they employ, one would likely consider them to teeter towards the higher end of the standings rather than the lower end. With further context however, this might not be the case.
Kyrie Irving’s effectively a part time player because of his vaccination status and the New York mandates. Kevin Durant is out a minimum of six more weeks, with smart money pushing past that mark. Bench options like Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap and others have been ineffective.
James Harden is somehow still playing himself in shape and Joe Harris hasn’t been available. All things considered, James Harden in particular is in a peculiar situation.
It has been rumored that James Harden’s relationship is being strained by the vaccine saga, and it’s also been rumored that he would like to ‘be the man again,’ so to speak. Why is this significant? Well, James Harden has a player option after this season.
If the Nets disappoint this season – say, end the regular season with the seventh seed and get eliminated early – then it’s conceivable that Harden could walk in the summer. Given the variables surrounding Brooklyn’s season, there has been noise surrounding James Harden and Darryl Morey reuniting in Philadelphia. This would require a Ben Simmons trade, but given Simmons’ mental makeup this season, and the Nets ability to so-far whether the injury storm, could you really see Joe Tsai trading for another ‘diva’? Odds would say not likely this season.
Key words being ‘this season.’ I think it’s conceivable, if not likely, that the Nets play out this season with their Big Three. In the offseason, similar to the Golden State’s D’Angelo Russell trade, the Nets could then move Harden via a sign and trade to the 76ers for Ben Simmons.
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| Title: Where will James Harden End Up?
| Author: Eddie Sanchez
| Date: Jan 28, 2022