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Report: James Harden wants trade from Nets, afraid of backlash

Nets guard doesn’t want to be in Brooklyn anymore but the public perception after a second forced deal ways on his mind.

James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on from the bench in the second half of the game against the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center on February 08, 2022 in New York City.  Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets G James Harden wants a trade out of Brooklyn and his preferred destination remains the Philadelphia 76ers, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. We’ve seen conflicting reports throughout the past month or so pertaining to Harden’s status with the Nets.

Apparently, his concern has less to do with basketball but more about public perception. This would be the second time Harden has forced a trade out of a franchise in as many years. The Beard is afraid of potential backlash that is carried with that and the pressure of moving teams and performing.

Woj uses “concern” as the term to describe this, but let’s be real, Harden is afraid of how it will affect his image in the short term. Harden has a clear connection to the Sixers with their current president and GM Daryl Morey in charge. Per Woj, Harden is hopeful a deal will get done prior to the deadline, which is Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.

Any deal for the Sixers for Harden would likely involve All-Star Ben Simmons, who hasn’t played this season in a holdout with the team. There were concerns Simmons wouldn’t be dealt before the deadline. That still could happen. Despite all these reports, Harden has been adamant he wants to stay in Brooklyn and Nets coach Steve Nash believes that will be the case.

If there’s any angle to this deadline in terms of NBA futures, it’s banking on the Sixers and fading the Nets. Brooklyn has been awful without Kevin Durant and with Kyrie Irving only playing part-time. If Harden is dealt, the Nets’ odds to win it all will drop. They’re currently at +320. The Milwaukee Bucks are +310 to win the East and Sixers are +475. If Harden bolts for the Sixers, Philly likely becomes the betting favorite in the East and perhaps overall to win the championship.

This is a big IF but with all the controversy and question marks surrounding the Nets, it isn’t a bad idea to jump on teams like Milwaukee or Philly to make it out of the conference. Even the Heat (5/1) and Chicago Bulls (13/1) aren’t bad bets to make it out of the East. Even if KD comes back and Harden remains with Brooklyn, the Nets aren’t invincible.