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#pounditSaturday, May 8, 2021

James Harden

Report: Rockets owner was ‘adamant’ about not trading James Harden to 76ers

Tilman Fertitta

The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers were reportedly the two finalists to acquire James Harden, but did only one of them ever have an actual chance to land the former NBA MVP?

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports said on his “Posted Up” podcast this week that Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta did not want to trade Harden to Philadelphia. That may have something to do with former Houston general manager Daryl Morey now being the president of basketball operations for the 76ers.

“After that, I was told that Tilman Fertitta – the Houston Rockets owner – he was just adamant that they not make a deal with Philly, obviously with Daryl Morey being the GM over there now,” Haynes said, via Dan Feldman of NBC Sports.

The Rockets ended up trading Harden to the Nets in a multi-team deal. They landed a boatload of picks and also acquired Victor Oladipo from the Indiana Pacers, so it’s certainly possible Brooklyn’s offer was the best one on the table.

Or, perhaps Morey instructed Rockets GM Rafael Stone to not trade Harden to Philly. Stone still could have used the Sixers as a negotiating tactic even if that were the case.

Had the 76ers offered Ben Simmons, even Fertitta may have been willing to take that deal. It does not sound like Simmons was ever on the table, however.

Morey resigned as GM of the Rockets following last season. It initially looked like he was going to take time off to be with his family, but he then signed a deal with the 76ers. Fertitta may have been bitter about how that went down. He also could have been bothered when Morey was fined for tampering with Harden.

Video: Shaq had some harsh comments for James Harden

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O’Neal offered some extremely harsh criticism of James Harden on Thursday night.

O’Neal spoke on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” and shared his thoughts on Harden’s exit from Houston. O’Neal specifically questioned whether Harden gave Houston his all, as the guard claimed. Shaq picked apart Harden for his postseason struggles and for not making things work despite the Rockets constantly bringing in players he wanted.

Shaq raised the stakes on Harden, saying if he doesn’t win in Brooklyn this year, “it’s a bust.”

Harden entered the season unhappy with the Rockets and is out of shape. He’s been angling for a trade, and escalated matters with his postgame comments on Tuesday that O’Neal referenced. A day later, the Rockets traded him to Brooklyn in a massive trade (full details here).

Harden forced his way out of Houston, and now the pressure is on him to win big in Brooklyn.

Video: Here is the Rockets’ farewell video to James Harden

James Harden

The final months of James Harden’s Houston Rockets career were difficult and somewhat awkward, but you wouldn’t know it watching the team’s farewell video to the star guard.

A day after Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a three-team blockbuster, the Rockets posted a tribute video to Harden on social media. It highlights Harden’s scoring accomplishments and MVP award and thanks him for his contributions to the organization.

Obviously, the Rockets aren’t going to allude to the last few months in a video like this. The whole thing is pretty straightforward, as one would expect.

Harden’s name is obviously all over the Rockets’ record books, and he will go down as the defining player of the era for the franchise. It’s just easy to lose sight of that right now given the needless drama that has taken place over the last few months, which saw him alienate a lot of people around the organization. The team paid Harden a nice tribute, and now they’re almost certainly ready to move on and look forward.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0

Ben Simmons ‘ecstatic’ not to be traded to Rockets for James Harden

Ben Simmons

James Harden got traded to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday rather than the Philadelphia 76ers, and apparently Ben Simmons is happy about that.

The 76ers and Nets were said to be the two teams in the mix to acquire Harden. Simmons was one of the players who likely would have been included in the deal.

After learning he would remain in Philly, Simmons was “ecstatic,” according to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears.

Simmons is playing in his fourth season with Philly (not counting his first year he missed due to injury) and has emerged as an All-Star the last two seasons. The team has a nice core including him, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and some newcomers like Seth Curry, Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey. They also have a new coach in Doc Rivers and GM in Daryl Morey. Simmons has said they can be a “scary” team.

The Sixers have a lot to look forward to, so it’s understandable why Simmons didn’t want to have that disrupted. And here is what the Rockets reportedly wanted in a trade for Harden.

Here is how NBA players reacted on Twitter to the James Harden trade news

Donovan Mitchell

News of James Harden’s trade from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets caught many off guard and left them stunned. Even NBA players were left in awe over the news.

All-Stars like Donovan Mitchell and Bradley Beal had 1-word reactions just like so many of us.

Others talked about how this is another example of crazy the NBA is with their huge trades.

The Nets will now have a core three of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, if Irving returns to the team. But Houston got a lot back in terms of draft picks, while Cleveland and Indiana also were involved in the trade. Here are full details on the four-team deal.

Steve Nash reveals how he will handle Nets’ new Big Three

Steve Nash

The Brooklyn Nets’ acquisition of James Harden is an exciting one for the team, but it brings a lot of new challenges. Making things potentially more difficult is the fact that an offense containing Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving will have to be guided by a rookie head coach in Steve Nash.

Before the trade was officially confirmed, Nash was asked on Wednesday how he would handle an offense where three stars will all expect to have the ball in their hands in order to make plays.

“I always talk to our players about making each other better and having all five guys be a threat and working to find commonality on the floor and in space together,” Nash said, via Adam Zagoria of Forbes. “It really is a simple game, but it becomes complicated when you put different personalities and players on the floor and our group has done a really good job being unselfish and trying to move the ball and work together so I’ve been proud of that. I don’t think we’ve struggled to share the basketball this year.”

The Nets may not have struggled to share the ball so far, but adding Harden to the mix adds a whole new degree of difficulty to the situation. Nash is right that the most complicated job he’ll have is to manage the demands and personalities that will come with coaching three superstars. One of those personalities has already proven to be a significant challenge for Nash.

The good news for Nash is that Durant and Harden have extensive experience playing together. Nash also has the experience of being a longtime star NBA point guard to guide him. That may make the process a little bit easier.

This is what the Rockets reportedly wanted from the Sixers for James Harden

Daryl Morey

The Brooklyn Nets won the James Harden sweepstakes on Wednesday, landing the superstar guard in a trade with the Houston Rockets. That left the Philadelphia 76ers as the apparent runners-up in trade talks.

The Sixers and Nets were considered the two finalists for Harden, and the Nets’ massive draft pick haul got the deal done for them. The Sixers were in talks up to the end, but simply weren’t willing to meet Houston’s asking price.

According to John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Rockets asked the Sixers for Ben Simmons, Matisse Thybulle, and draft picks. Philadelphia balked at that, and Harden was traded to the Nets. Reports indicated that the Sixers and Rockets were discussing guard Tyrese Maxey instead of Thybulle.

Simmons was probably the most talented player the Rockets could have landed in a theoretical Harden trade. That said, the Nets were willing and able to send four first-round picks to Houston, as well as four more pick swaps. That may have been the difference, particularly if the Sixers weren’t willing to do that.

Could James Harden trade help convince Kevin Durant to remain with Nets longer?

Kevin Durant

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.

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.

Full details of huge James Harden to Nets trade

James Harden

The massive James Harden trade to the Brooklyn Nets became much larger than involving two teams and one player.

In the end, four teams, seven players, six draft picks, and four pick swaps were involved in the trade.

Here is a look at what each team received in the end.

Brooklyn Nets:
– James Harden

Houston Rockets:
– Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs
– 4 first-round picks (3 from the Nets 2022, 2024, 2026; and 1 from the Milwaukee Bucks via Cleveland 2022)
– 4 first-round pick swaps from the Nets (2021, 2023, 2025, 2027)

Indiana Pacers:
– Caris LeVert, second-round pick from Houston

Cleveland Cavaliers:
– Jarrett Allen
– Taurean Prince

The Cavs were able to sneak in and get Allen and Prince, which is a nice addition, all for trading a first-round pick from the Bucks. The Pacers were able to flip Oladipo, who wanted out, for LeVert, which is a nice replacement.

The Nets are the big winners because they get the MVP to pair with another MVP … and Kyrie Irving, if he ever decides to play again.

The Rockets were in a tough spot because Harden was forcing their hand. Although they get a lot of goodies on paper, you have to question what it will amount to. Oladipo could be gone after the season. The first-round picks from the Nets and Bucks will most likely be late in the draft, and least for the next few years, which would also make the pick swap rights useless. The Rockets could end up with very little to show for Harden in a few years.

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0

James Harden traded to Nets from Rockets in blockbuster deal

James Harden

James Harden has finally forced his way out of Houston, and the former MVP is heading to the Brooklyn Nets.

The Rockets have agreed to a deal with the Nets that will send Harden to Brooklyn. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers are also involved in the trade. Here are the details:

Houston had reportedly been seeking a package of first-round picks in addition to a young franchise cornerstone. While they did not land an All-Star, they did receive a massive haul of first-round picks and a solid player in Caris LeVert. They then flipped LeVert to the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo.

Shams Charania of The Athletic provided a full breakdown of what each team received in the blockbuster.

Obviously, that is a nice haul for the Rockets. Harden made it clear with his comments on Tuesday night that he was done in Houston, and the team ended up trading him for a handful of first-round picks and Oladipo. You can’t get a much better return than that for a disgruntled superstar.

The Nets are hoping to contend for a title with Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but Irving has been away from the team for personal reasons. No one seems to know if or when he will return.