There were a lot of moves in the NBA on Monday, but the biggest news wasn’t even a move. It was just a desire.
According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Houston Rockets superstar James Harden is trying to do everything in his power to not only get traded, but get traded to the Brooklyn Nets specifically.
Wojnarowski notes that Harden — who has three years and $133 million remaining on his contract — rejected a two-year, $103 million extension, which would have made him the first player in NBA history to hit the $50 million annually mark.
Harden’s path to his desired destination is not without obstacles. The package of players that Brooklyn could offer — centered around Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Jarrett Allen — would be intriguing additions to a title contender, but they’re not foundational pieces for a rebuilding team, and they’re certainly not an equivalent haul for an MVP in his prime.
Brooklyn would have to send considerable draft compensation, but even then, can it get the job done? The Milwaukee Bucks just sent three first-round draft picks and Eric Bledsoe to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Jrue Holiday, so what does that say about how many picks would be required for — again — an MVP in his prime?
And with Harden still having three years on his contract, not to mention considerable suitors, there’s really no pressure for Houston to cave to his desires; this isn’t an Anthony Davis situation.
So Harden to Brooklyn is far from a sure thing.
But I can’t stop thinking about what it would be like. A team with James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving? Can you even begin to imagine how Golden State Warriors fans would feel when the Nets came to town?
Consider the actors:
Harden is loathed by Dub Nation. His antics and foul-drawing style of play are hated by nearly all who love the Warriors, and Golden State knocked him out of the playoffs in four of their five runs to the NBA Finals, with fans relishing each.
Don’t believe me? Just read the comments from my article about Harden joining the Warriors, where you’ll find comments ranging from “they should sign Jerry West instead” to “only if he’ll come off the bench.” With the possible exception of Chris Paul, I don’t think there’s anyone that Warriors fans enjoy beating more than Harden.
Irving will always be attached to the Warriors, on account of his historic shot in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. There’s a healthy amount of respect for him due to that shot, but also the anger and disdain that comes with a rival, especially one who has been so ... well ... you know how Irving is.
And then there’s Durant. Durant will likely get a statue and a raised jersey at Chase Center one day, as he should. And Warriors fans will hopefully always cheer him.
But it would be foolish to ignore the other side of it. Durant’s relationship with the fans was always a tiny bit icy — they loved him, but not as much as the homegrown players, and he was a resentful about it. Fair or not, fans were upset that he never fully committed to the Warriors, and that he spent his final season with the Dubs plotting his next move.
Dub Nation will always love Durant for playing a huge role in a dynasty, and in hanging two banners, but his last year was spent talking with Irving about plans to link up, and saying he’d have to look at the tape before answering if Steph Curry was better than Irving.
Durant is like a sibling for Warriors fans. They love him, but I suspect there are few people they want to beat more than him.
So now you add them all up. Harden, Dub Nation’s most hated. Irving, Dub Nation’s most annoying rival. Durant, Dub Nation’s younger brother. And for added measure, DeAndre Jordan, a throwback to the rivalry with the Lob City Clippers.
Were it not for Steve Nash roaming the sidelines, that Nets team would be tailor made for Warriors fans. I almost want it to happen, just for that reason. Just to watch the passionate emotions from Warriors fans every time the teams collide.