The Brooklyn Nets are currently involved in an all-out endeavor, attempting to land a third star in James Harden to pair with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. As it stands, the Houston Rockets aren’t willing to back down in any trade talks centered around their superstar, and will likely command a monumental package in return for the superstar.
Even so, it appears that while Durant desires for a reunion with his former OKC running mate, it seems from various reports emerging that Irving’s desire isn’t necessarily on par with Durant’s. That could simply be due to the fact that Irving has already manifested in his mind the long-awaited moment of sharing the floor with Durant as simply co-stars rather than forming a Big 3.
Harden’s supermax contract still has two years remaining, which means a move to Brooklyn likely implies that he stays put until the end of his deal. With that in mind, this trade is the epitome of a superstar meltdown waiting to happen.
Regardless if the reports of Irving not wishing to play with Harden are true, the overall notion of that aspect is hard to digest. There have been a plethora of “on paper” rosters that deserved a rightful slot in the Hall of Fame if such a category was constructed. A roster composed of Durant, Irving and Harden isn’t the problem; having Irving and Harden on any roster together outside of an Olympic squad is simply unachievable.
Harden saw first-hand last season that his skillset can’t flourish with another ball-dominant player on the floor. As Westbrook so greatly craved the ball in his hand for the 24 seconds the Rockets were granted on offense, so will Irving with the Nets. The only difference that smashes this already-dilemma further into an unsolvable equation is that now James Harden must share the ball with Kyrie Irving while trying to compensate Kevin Durant in the fold as well.
The question was always posed in a dream-like scenario of “What If?” in terms of Harden, Westbrook and Durant staying put with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the long term. The simple answer was that skills, along with egos, would’ve surpassed their overall trajectory for greatness in the playoffs. The Thunder did what was necessary at the time and traded Harden along with his ridiculous ceiling to the improving Rockets, allowing Westbrook and Durant to further their development.
If Harden’s true desire is to land back with Durant, he’s simply recreating that same era that he had with the Thunder. Kevin Durant isn’t one for logical thinking before letting his overall emotions run wild, which is a sentiment often echoed by his bold takes on social media. It’s easy to believe that he rushed to judgement in the recruitment of Harden with the news of his unhappiness in Houston.
The overall goal of any franchise is to keep your stars happy–whatever number of high-caliber players that may be. While Durant may seem inclined to bring Harden aboard, Irving didn’t leave the Boston Celtics to become a second or third fiddle to anyone. He left for the immediate desire of obtaining a co-star, which is an identity he found with Durant. Not even having one year of playing time under their belt together possibly makes Irving not so quick to rush to judgement on the duo’s potential in the Eastern Conference.
If the Nets can land James Harden and make the synergy seamless, they’ll be one of the funnest teams in NBA history that the world has ever watched. As it stands at the current, however, it just looks good on paper.