4. Brooklyn Nets
When word first surfaced that James Harden wanted to leave the Rockets, it was immediately reported that Harden wanted to go exclusively to the Brooklyn Nets, which isn’t surprising for several reasons. Harden has remained close friends with Kevin Durant since the two were teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the two trained together in the offseason in southern California.
Durant reportedly recruited Harden and sold him on the idea of joining forces with the Brooklyn Nets, as they sought to become the league’s next Big Three, alongside Kyrie Irving, which is a trend that has now become extinct. The Nets were reportedly willing to offer Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, and Jarrett Allen, along with draft capital for Harden’s services.
Brooklyn faced challenges in their pursuit of Harden, as what they were offering didn’t meet the Rockets’ asking price, which was a young franchise cornerstone. For this reason, talks stalled and the Nets reportedly withdrew their offer, although the Rockets were never close to pulling the trigger on the deal.
The Nets decided to focus on keeping their own players and running it back, as they re-signed veteran sharpshooter Joe Harris to a long-term deal and entered the season with their same roster. The Nets started the season with a catapulting 125-99 victory over the Golden State Warriors, followed by a 123-95 victory over the Boston Celtics, squashing any uncertainty regarding Kyrie Irving and Durant being able to play well together.
With Irving and Durant thriving alongside one another this early in the season, the Nets likely don’t feel the need to add Harden, as the duo will only build more chemistry as the season progresses. But even if they did want to make another run at Harden, their package that didn’t entice the Rockets is now significantly weaker, as Spencer Dinwiddie suffered a torn ACL, which will sideline him for the season and remove him from the Nets’ package.
There have been reports that the Rockets would be interested in swapping Harden for Irving, but the Nets are seeking to keep Irving, as opposed to moving him. If Harden wants to play alongside Irving and Durant, he’ll likely have to wait until 2022, which is when he can exercise his player option and become an unrestricted free agent.
Next: No. 3