NBA

Why NBA blockbuster trade leaves no excuses for James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets

No more excuses. 

That, ultimately, will be the lasting reality behind Wednesday’s four-team, blockbuster trade that sends disgruntled superstar James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets.

No more excuses for Harden, who went Full Disgruntled to engineer his exit from Houston. None for Kevin Durant. None for Kyrie Irving. None for anyone in Brooklyn. 

On the surface, the move is a win for many of those involved. The Houston Rockets pull off an impressive haul of four first-round draft picks and legitimate star-on-the-rise Victor Oladipo. Pair that with John Wall and their future is bright, even if a bit delayed.

Caris LeVert to the Pacers is also an impressive addition to a team that’s already formidable, well coached and capable of big things.

But the primary focus of this trade will fall on the Nets and on Harden himself. Make no mistake: Harden’s insouciant play, behind-the-scenes disrespect to his teammates and organization, and me-before-the-team press conference selfishness on Tuesday got him what he wanted. Now he has to prove it — and he — are worth all that trouble.

That’s far from certain. 

The stunning move by the Nets is, no doubt, a gamble worthy of fist-pumping and celebration for Sean Marks and his front office. 

It’s a win. 

It’s a coup. 

But it’s still a gamble, one with massive stakes, an all-the-chips-in-the-middle shove with more uncertainty than the initial shock and jubilation over a K.D.-Kyrie-Harden trio naturally fosters.

Chemistry isn’t as sexy as three superstars playing together, but it’s of critical importance. Particularly with three superstars playing together. 

Particularly, in the extreme, with these three superstars. 

Let’s review how these ball-dominant, uber-talented players got here, and what’s happened during their journey to Brooklyn.

Durant, one of the most dynamic and dangerous basketball players on earth, so bristled at criticism while with the Warriors he had Twitter burner accounts to defend his honor. He struggled with the love and adulation Curry incurred there, and felt, by comparison, underappreciated. There’s nothing wrong with those realities, but it certainly raises an eyebrow or two about his ability to play with other superstars.

And Irving and Harden, at least as teammates and models of basketball selflessness, ain’t Curry.

Irving was so unhappy under the shadow of LeBron James — the best player on earth, no less — he forced his way out of a defending champion. That’s fine, sure, but it doesn’t scream “winning matters most.” 

Nor, of course, does simply leaving his team during the season and not having the time to tell his rookie (and hall of fame) coach. 

And we haven’t gotten to his time in Boston yet. That team that had already made a Conference finals without him, and Kyrie’s addition turned out to be a weight instead of a win. He brought more drama than danger to the Celtics dreams of taking that next step, and they are better without him.

Locker rooms matter. 

So now Irving is a Net, or at least sort of. We still don’t know what he’s up to or why he’s left the team, but he’s still a no-show. His preseason comments that the Nets didn’t really have a coach — yikes, Steve Nash — were close to being prophetic. Substitute “me” for “coach” and he’s on to something.

And into this situation steps Harden, whose usage rate would make Kobe Bryant blush. Again: That’s fine … if it works.

But Harden’s ugly exit from Houston comes after being unable to coexist (and, ultimately, make an NBA Finals) with Chris Paul and, then, with his longtime friend, Russell Westbrook.

So yes, the talent in Brooklyn is a thing to behold. If those three players play together in sync, willing to sacrifice, focused on the goal of team greatness ahead of the night-to-night pull of individual excellence they will be, to say the least, extremely hard to contain. 

There’s just too much offensive firepower. And the roster behind them, even with LeVert and Jarrett Allen leaving, is deep and impressive.

But they’re also three players who have shown themselves, in different ways, to be sensitive not just to criticism but to the need to work in tandem with other stars. Durant did it with great success, sure, but if the Warriors culture rubs you the wrong way, good luck with Kyrie and the Beard.

Harden is the ultimate example here, and the person on whom the most weight will fall. He had his way, time after time, in Houston, until he woke up one day miserable with the world he had wrought for himself. His answer? Turn off his phone, show up late and out of shape this season, play like it didn’t matter, and, in the end, insult his team and literally get up and walk away.

Maybe that player paired with Durant and Kyrie will be unstoppable. Maybe he’ll be reborn, focused, selfless, part of a Big Three that will dominate the East and chase rings with abandon. Maybe they’ll be unstoppable. Or maybe, after a little time and tension together, people in Brooklyn will just want it all to stop.

Either option is possible, and neither is guaranteed. But whatever happens, there are no more excuses. 

That’s the most talented trio in the NBA — one of the most talented in NBA history — and if it doesn’t work, there will be no one to blame in Brooklyn other than three stars who got actually exactly what they asked for: Each other.



 

Source link

Back to top button
SoundCloud To Mp3