According to Nick Wright of FS1, there has been “legitimate movement on the Harden front,” as Brooklyn is reportedly willing to offer anybody besides Kevin Durant in the deal, plus three first-round picks and pick swaps in a trade package.
Of course, that would mean the Nets are open to trading Kyrie Irving for Houston's disgruntled All-Star, which has not always been the case.
However, Wright reports that Houston is not particularly interested in Irving, and the Nets may be looking to add a third team into the deal in order to entice the Rockets:
If Houston demanded Kyrie, they could have him, but the belief is Houston isn’t interested in Kyrie. BK trying to get a 3rd team involved to potentially enhance Houston’s return. Would have a Big 3 of KD, Harden & Kyrie but very little else, no depth & no future picks.
— nick wright (@getnickwright) January 13, 2021
Irving has missed the last four games for “personal reasons” and has been MIA from the team. The Nets star could be facing punishment from the league and mandated isolation for violating health and safety protocols. The NBA is currently investigating recent videos showing Irving partying maskless indoors at a family birthday celebration.
A trade looks even more imminent now after Harden voiced his dissatisfaction with the franchise in his postgame comments on Tuesday, but it's no guarantee the Nets will be involved. After a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the 2018 MVP expressed his dejection at his team's inability to compete with the defending champions, which seemingly reinforced his desire to be dealt:
“We’re not even close, honestly,” Harden said, via Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “To that team, the defending champions, and all the elite teams out there. I mean you can tell the difference in the last two games.”
“I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. The situation is crazy, it’s something that I don’t think can be fixed,” Harden added, before leaving the podium. “
According to Iko, the Nets remain atop Harden's wish list of trade destinations. The losses to the Lakers only reinforced Harden's notion that he can't win a title with this Rockets group, and it's time to go elsewhere.