Dealing with Kevin Durant (MCL), James Harden (hamstring), Joe Harris (hamstring) and LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle), the part-time play of Kyrie Irving, and nearly 30 different starting lineups, the Brooklyn Nets are struggling. Today is the NBA’s trade deadline and as of the time this story went to press, the Nets had not made any major moves.
The Nets were 29-24, 7th in the Eastern Conference, when they hosted the Boston Celtics at the Barclays Center on Tuesday. It was Brooklyn’s first game at home since ending a five-game road trip against Western Conference opponents. They went 0-5 and had lost eight games in a row before facing the Celtics.
Trade rumors about Harden abound, the loudest being Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons. Some have wondered about the logic of the Nets trading Harden, 32, for Simmons, who is 25. While seven years younger, Simmons, who has decided to sit out this season rather than play for the Sixers after his relationship with the team’s head coach, Doc Rivers, soured after they were eliminated from the playoffs last season, has struggled shooting the ball. His confidence was completely lost in the Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series versus the Atlanta Hawks that ended the 76ers’ season.
So why would the Nets trade Harden, one of the league’s best all-around offensive players, for Simmons, a 6-foot-11 point-forward, three-time All-Star, two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, and arguably the most versatile defensive player in the NBA but until proven otherwise a scoring liability? Maybe it is because Harden, according to some unconfirmed reports, no longer wants to play for the Nets.
“I’ve talked to James. He wants to be here,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash before his team suffered a 124-104 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday. “He wants to be here long-term as well, so I don’t think anything’s changed other than noise from the outside.”
Nash said the Nets are going to remain focused and steady as they manage adversity.
“We’re not going to panic. There’s still plenty of games after the All-Star break when Kevin is back,” he made clear.
“The common thread is not having everyone, and us finding ways to get better,” said Nets veteran guard Patty Mills, who won a championship in 2014 while playing with the San Antonio Spurs.
“It has been tough, but no excuses,” Mills added. “We’ve got to hang our hat on our ability to rely on each other.”
The Nets are back on the road tonight to take on the Washington Wizards and Saturday to meet up with the Miami Heat and return to Brooklyn on Monday to play the Sacramento Kings.