The Nets may be tempted to trade for James Harden this season, but Brooklyn’s blowout victory against the Warriors showed they don’t need him.
It’s hard to imagine the Nets looking better on Opening Night than they did in their 125-99 demolition of the Golden State Warriors. Making lasting judgments after one night of the NBA regular season may be fraught with danger, but officials in Brooklyn should feel emboldened to avoid the temptation to swing a trade for James Harden.
The best news of the night for the Nets was that both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving appeared to be totally healthy. They give Steve Nash’s team enough star power to cruise to a top seed in the Eastern Conference during the regular season. More importantly, their individual skill on offense gives the Nets the juice they need to compete in any playoff series.
The idea of adding Harden to the mix is that it would give Brooklyn a “Big 3” reminiscent of what the Heat had with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. That’s a flawed philosophy for one crucial reason. That grouping worked because Bosh was willing to take a back seat and assume a complementary role on offense. There’s zero chance of a healthy Durant, Irving, or Harden making the same selfless decision.
For the record, that’s not a criticism of any member of the trio. Each star is a better offensive player than Bosh ever was. Asking Durant, Irving, or Harden to stand in the corner for long stretches of the game would be a colossal waste of their prodigious talent.
Wednesday night’s demolition of the Warriors gave Brooklyn’s front office even more reasons not to pull the trigger on a Harden deal. The team’s supporting pieces played well enough to make their collective value superior to what Harden would add to the team if he made the move to Brooklyn.
NBA Rumors: Nets proved they don’t need to force a James Harden trade
One of the team’s biggest questions coming into this season was how Caris LeVert might adapt to his new role as the leader of the team’s second unit. It was easy to see how he might sulk at the idea of going from the primary creator to the sixth man. To LeVert’s credit, he seems to be approaching the role with genuine enthusiasm. Getting up 17 shots in 25 minutes might not be the most efficient strategy for LeVert to succeed over the long haul, but it does prove that he’s ready to be a highly engaged member of the team’s core.
Any Harden deal would have to include LeVert heading to Houston. Losing him might prove to be a critical blow to Nash’s productive bench unit.
Jarrett Allen is another player who would potentially head to the Rockets in a Harden deal. Like LeVert, he’s also making the transition from primary starter to the second unit this season. Unlike LeVert, he doesn’t deserve to head to the bench. He’s a better player than DeAndre Jordan who is getting the starting nod largely due to his relationship with Durant and Irving.
Allen also showed that he’s ready to accept his diminished role as a professional. He logged more minutes than Jordan in the blowout win. He only scored eight points on three shots in his 20 minutes of action, but he logged seven crucial rebounds for his team. Throw in two blocks and two assists for the young center and it’s easy to see how he can blossom into a borderline star for Brooklyn this season.
The last potential piece of any Harden deal is veteran guard Spencer Dinwiddie. He didn’t look great in the team’s opener, but he did fit better into the offensive flow of the starting five than some experts might have predicted. Dinwiddie’s primary job will be to serve as a connector for the team’s stars on the offensive end of the floor. He notched four quality assists during his 20 minutes of play against Golden State. The Nets need him to be a positive piece of the puzzle on a nightly basis rather than attempting to be a star.
In the end, making a big trade for Harden might give the Nets a healthy boost of star power, but it would throw off the potential team dynamic that could power Brooklyn to an NBA title this season. It’s imperative that their front office avoids the temptation to win the headlines in New York. Nash’s team already has enough to win it all without adding Harden to the mix.