If the Brooklyn Nets and Kevin Durant Choose Kyrie Irving Over James Harden, They're Nuts

By Stephen Douglas
Dec 11, 2020, 8:12 AM EST
Kyrie Irving and James Harden
Kyrie Irving and James Harden | Emilee Chinn/Getty Images
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James Harden is reportedly ready to move on from the Houston Rockets after eight seasons, multiple superstar teammates, and an MVP award. One of his preferred destinations is the Brooklyn Nets where he would be reunited with his former teammate from Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant. This seems like it would be a good match. The only thing standing in the way is that the Nets have to put together a package worthy of acquiring a superstar like Harden.

The answer to everyone's problem seems pretty obvious. The Nets should offer Kyrie Irving and some other, lesser assets for Harden. But that's generally not the rumored deal. The Nets seem to be balking at this for some reason and that is insane. James Harden is an upgrade and a better bet. If the Nets or KD choose Kyrie over Harden, they are just crazy.

Harden played in every game last season. The most he has missed in a single season was 10 in 2017-2018 when he won MVP. Kyrie is coming off a season where he played 20 games before having season-ending surgery on his shoulder. He's also had hand and knee surgery.

Harden has never missed the playoffs in his 11-year career. Irving has played nine seasons. He's been in the playoffs four times, only once without LeBron James on his team.

Harden, who has spent the last eight seasons in Houston being the absolute focus of the offense, averages one fewer field goal attempt and nearly three more points per game. Kyrie's career-high in assists per game is 6.9. Harden has averaged anywhere between seven and 11.2 over the last seven seasons. Harden has a higher true shooting percentage, PER, VORP and pretty much every other advanced statistic.

Harden is bigger and better and always healthier than Kyrie. With the sweet lefty, the Nets will make the playoffs. Even if KD misses a bunch of games. And that's important because Durant has missed 10 of fewer games just twice in the last six seasons and did not play at all last year. KD can load-manage his way through this season and the Nets will make the playoffs with Harden. However good KD and Kyrie will be together when healthy, you can't expect them to be there on any given night.

Maybe it's the Rockets who aren't interested in Kyrie since they just acquired John Wall. I'm sure there is a third team that could get involved who would want a player of his talent and stature. What about New York or Chicago or any other star-starved franchise?

I mean, it's nuts. Irving hit one of the biggest shots in the history of the entire NBA. He is a great shooter. He is one of the best ball-handlers ever. He's basically unarguable one-on-one. He's complicated. Look at what happened in Cleveland with LeBron and in Boston with all those guys. He's proof that you can take the biggest shot of the season and still not be trusted to get through the regular season. That doesn't mean if you're looking to chase a playoff spot and some relevancy he's not the perfect guy for your team.

Or maybe he isn't any of this good stuff and nobody wants him, which would actually prove that the Nets are insane not to try to flip him for Harden. And if Kevin Durant is standing in the way, what is anyone actually trying to accomplish in Brooklyn?

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