The Brooklyn Nets are the talk of the town after trading for James Harden, to the surprise of nobody. Such a collection of talent being brought together is inherently newsworthy, and that's before you get to the part where each of the stars in question have had various issues with interpersonal relationships over the years. Will it work? Will this experiment collapse in a spectacular fashion? Will Harden single-handedly save the strip club industry in the city of New York? All of the above could happen, or none of it.
It will be a damn show, we all know that much. The basketball will be as entertaining as any off-court drama that might appear. Through it all, people will talk about the new Big 3 in BK (B3K? Needs workshopping). Charles Barkley appeared on the Dan Patrick Show today to do just that. The TNT host had some thoughts on exactly why this trade went down.
Specifically, Barkley vocalized his belief that Kevin Durant wanted Harden to come to the Nets because he lost faith in Kyrie Irving after the mercurial point guard stopped showing up to work for reasons still unknown.
"I think it's what KD wanted to do. I think he wanted Kyrie, now I think he realizes now, 'Yeah, this is not going to work, I better bring James in as an insurance policy ...' Clearly KD is running the organization. I think this was about what he wanted."
On a related note, the man who pulled the trigger on the whole thing, general manager Sean Marks, said both Kyrie and KD signed off on the move before it happened. So there is at least a nugget of truth in what Barkley is saying: Durant definitely did want this to happen, and then it happened.
Barkley's suggestion of Durant's line of thinking is logical. It's tough to say Harden is all that much more reliable than Kyrie given how he managed to get traded from Houston and his various woes in the playoffs over the years, but at least the man showed up to Rockets games. More than the third star of this triumvirate can claim.
Let us go down this path as a fun thought experiment for a moment and assume Barkley is spot-on here. Durant realized Kyrie may not be the running mate he wants, so he gets Harden. You know, just in case. And the Nets front office agreed to bend to his whims. What if Kyrie continues to do... whatever he is doing and Durant decides the resources the team has dedicated to Kyrie's contract would be better utilized elsewhere? What if Durant gets Kyrie traded?
Spicy stuff, right? Brooklyn would be hard-pressed to get any sort of decent return because of everything that has transpired recently. But he is the most expendable of the trio. Harden has shown he can be effective on defense on the rare occasions he cares to. Durant was a beast at times on that end of the floor while with Golden State. Kyrie has never really cared to try on that end of the floor and is too small to really make an impact even if he did. There really isn't anything he can do that Harden can do better. The skillsets overlap.
There is such thing as a team that is too top-heavy, especially when strong personalities are involved. Like the Steve Nash-Kobe Bryant-Dwight Howard-Pau Gasol Lakers, for example. It is not improbable that these Nets end up having similar issues. But a team with KD and Harden with supporting pieces around them? That might be the perfect balance.
This could also all be for naught, Kyrie returns from his sabbatical (or whatever you want to call it) with some legitimate excuses, and the three stars destroy the league en route to several straight titles. It will be opera. That's all we know for certain.