Rival teams hoping to potentially pry James Harden away from the Brooklyn Nets prior to the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 10 will be disappointed. The Nets don’t plan to listen to any outside offers for Harden leading up to the deadline, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. There was some speculation that the Nets could look to trade Harden, as opposed to losing him and getting nothing in return should he sign elsewhere in free agency over the offseason, but that clearly won’t be the case.
Harden failed to sign an extension with the Nets last offseason, which means that he could become an unrestricted free agent this summer, assuming he turns down his player option for next season. However, he has repeatedly insisted to Brooklyn’s ownership and front office that he is committed to the organization, per Wojnarowski.
The Nets have dealt with a plethora of absences and injury issues this season. Kevin Durant is currently sidelined with an MCL sprain, and Kyrie Irving continues to only be available for road games due to the fact that he is unvaccinated against COVID-19, and thus unable to play in New York due to the state’s mandates. Following Brooklyn’s 106-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, Harden publicly expressed some frustration with the situation.
“Of course I’m frustrated because we’re not healthy,” Harden said. “There’s a lot of inconsistency for whatever reason. Injuries, COVID, whatever you want to call it. But yeah, it’s frustrating. I think everybody in this organization is frustrated because we are better than what our record is and we should be on the way up.”
Despite his dissatisfaction, Nets coach Steve Nash still thinks that Harden is happy to be in Brooklyn. “I think James is happy to be here,” Nash said, before echoing Harden’s reasons for feeling frustrated.
“I just think it’s frustrating right now because we haven’t played great basketball, we’ve had a lot of injuries, we’ve had a lot of illness,” Nash said. “A lot of guys in and out of the lineup. A lot of chop and change so that can be frustrating for sure to not have that kind of consistency to build on. And we haven’t had our best performances… So we have higher expectations and it’s frustrating, but I think James is happy here for sure.”
Even with all of the injuries and issues that the Nets have had to deal with this season, the team still sits third in the East — just a game back from the top spot. When they’re fully healthy, they’re arguably the most talented team in the entire league, and they have a real chance to contend for a title as long as they have their key contributors out there. For them, the rest of the season will be all about getting healthy for the playoff push. In the meantime, Harden’s long-term future in Brooklyn is a story that won’t be going away any time soon.