The Brooklyn Nets were the initial favorites to land James Harden when it was reported the Houston Rockets star requested a trade earlier in December.
Harden had apparently labeled Brooklyn as his preferred destination, with some citing a desire to be reunited with Kevin Durant.
However, the Nets do not appear to be very engaged on a potential Harden move, and it might be because of Harden's former head coach.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN and longtime sports writer Bob Ryan were guests on the latest episode of The Ringer's Bill Simmons Podcast. The trio discussed possible Harden deals with Simmons, who said the Nets' interest in “The Beard” waned when Mike D'Antoni suggested Brooklyn had enough on the current roster:
“I heard that Brooklyn cooled of on Harden and one reason was D'Antoni, they were like ‘were good, lets keep what we have here, Harden presents some problems,'” Simmons said.
This merely seems like conjecture.
It is certainly possible D'Antoni, an assistant for head coach Steve Nash, suggested Harden would not be a good fit for the Nets. However, previous reports also suggested the Rockets had no interest in any packages Brooklyn had to offer, and even the inclusion of Kyrie Irving was seen as underwhelming.
Additionally, it seems likely a deal between the Nets and Rockets might otherwise include Spencer Dinwiddie, which is problematic given he recently suffered a partially torn ACL.
Sean Marks and the rest of Brooklyn's front office might also recognize this is a pretty dangerous team as is, and there is no reason to cede significant draft compensation if the Nets are contenders without Harden..