Could James Harden trade help convince Kevin Durant to remain with Nets longer?
The Brooklyn Nets acquired James Harden to become even stronger contenders for the NBA championship. However, they may have a secondary motive behind the move as well.
The Nets have forward Kevin Durant under contract through the 2021-22 season. Durant then has a player option for 2022-23, after which he would become a free agent. Harden’s current deal is on the exact same timeline as well.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski views the Harden trade as making it easier for the Nets to convince Durant to sign a contract extension in the future.
Whatever the future of Kyrie Irving with the Nets, this trade does one more important thing for Brooklyn: It makes a strong case to help keep the franchise's most important player — Kevin Durant — beyond his current contract.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 13, 2021
Durant and Harden grew up together on the Oklahoma City Thunder and are known to be close. In fact, Durant was championing Harden even before Harden blossomed into the superstar he ultimately became. Surrounding Durant with players he likes playing with can only help the Nets’ chances of retaining him.
It’s not just that the two are friends, though. The acquisition of Harden signifies that the Nets are serious about building a long-term contender. Ultimately, if that is what Durant is looking for, the Nets are stepping up to show that they’re legitimate. That matters in the eyes of players, and it wouldn’t be a shock if it factored into the Nets’ thinking when making the deal.