James Harden may be coming to the realization that the grass is not always greener on the other side when it comes to life in Brooklyn after last year’s failure and how this season has played out thus far. A recent report from Bleacher Report points out Harden being frustrated by Kyrie Irving’s part-time status and head coach Steve Nash’s lineup rotations. Harden was asked about the reports after Brooklyn’s 106-96 loss Tuesday night to the Lakers and claimed he has no clue where these reports came from.
I’m not a body language expert, but Harden looks more annoyed at the reporter asking the question than anything. He says he doesn’t know anything about these reports, but he didn’t deny being unhappy in Brooklyn. Whether Harden is happy with the Nets or not will play out soon enough. But I’m sure most people would be able to understand any displeasure Harden might have after looking at this team and what they’ve accomplished, which isn’t much at this point. Oh yes, and the fact that since Harden arrived last year, the trio has played less than 20 games together in one calendar year. Just knowing that stat is frustrating enough. Harden is stuck living through it every day.
Assembling a Big 3in the NBA is supposed to be a one-way ticket to easy street and NBA championships. We all remember how the Golden State Warriors dominated once their Big 3 formed. They had three finals appearances in a row, winning the first two convincingly. The Big 3 Celtics won quickly, the Heat went to four straight Finals winning back-to-back, then LeBron James did it again in Cleveland, making another four consecutive Finals appearances with that Big 3, winning one. All those teams made the Finals in year one. Brooklyn needs to get there in year two to call this a success.
On top of Harden’s alleged “unhappiness” with the current state of the Nets, rumors about Daryl Morey and the Philadelphia 76er’s interest in trading Ben Simmons for him continue to pop up as the season progresses. With these reports of Harden being unhappy in Brooklyn, the ongoing Kyrie situation, and Kevin Durant being sidelined with an injury, it’s pretty easy to see why Harden would be frustrated. Against the Lakers, there was no Irving (home game) or Durant on the floor with Harden. He forced his way to Brooklyn to be part of a Big 3, not a Big 1, like he was in Houston.
It’s NBA Finals or bust for the Nets at this point. Reaching the Finals should be the bare minimum for this Brooklyn team in 2022. Harden has a player option for next year, but if the Nets can’t make it to the championship round, I can see Harden’s frustration boiling over. If the Nets can somehow navigate their way to the Finals, they’d better hope the Golden State Warriors aren’t on the other side of that coin. Should that be the case, Kyrie will be taking a seat for that entire series due to Brooklyn’s and San Francisco’s COVID mandates.