James Harden trade proves Kevin Durant is top priority for Nets amid Kyrie Irving drama

Kevin Durant James Harden Nets
Kevin Durant (left) and James Harden (right), shown here in 2012, are reunited in Brooklyn with the Nets.
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The NBA’s newest “Big 3” is now in Brooklyn of all places. 

Now the question is, of course, will they ever be on the floor together at the same time?

The basketball world is still reeling from the blockbuster mega-trade that saw the Nets barter their future for superstar guard James Harden in a four-team deal, sending four draft picks and four pick swaps along with Rodions Kurucs to the Houston Rockets. 

Caris LeVert was sent to the Indiana Pacers while Jarrett Allen went to the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

“Adding an All-NBA player such as James to our roster better positions our team to compete against the league’s best,” Nets GM Sean Marks said. “James is one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in our game, and we are thrilled to bring his special talents to Brooklyn.”

It’s an incredibly steep price to pay for two guaranteed years of the 31-year-old, eight-time All-Star, who is making over $40 million in each of the next two years with a third-year player option in his contract. 

And for the Nets fans who lived through the mid-2010s, it provides plenty of hesitation. The last time the organization sold their soul for marquee names — though Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were past their prime — it sent the organization spiraling toward its darkest years. 

The Nets’ ceiling is much higher than it was during its first years in Brooklyn now with Harden reuniting with Kevin Durant — the two were teammates for three seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder — and, maybe, just maybe, Kyrie Irving. 

Irving’s status regarding his availability in the short-term, or even for the rest of the season, is very much shrouded in mystery. 

The 28-year-old star point guard has missed the last five games for what is being described as personal reasons. 

The source of those personal reasons has yet to be disclosed. Though over the last week, there has been speculation that Irving was upset about what happened at the US Capitol on Jan. 6. 

SNY’s Thomas Dee, however, shed some more insight on the situation shortly before the Harden deal was reported. 

“I’m told he’s been ‘furious’ at the organization for some time for not giving him more input on the head coach hiring,” Dee wrote. “He was not in favor of Steve Nash. Also, his relationship with Kevin Durant has been described as ‘very distant’ recently.”

KRON 4 News’ Jason Dumas followed with a report stating that Irving “is willing to sit out the year if need be.”

Like Harden and Durant, Irving has an opt-out clause following next season, which adds some more clarity on why the Nets were willing to pull the trigger on such a huge deal Wednesday evening. 

If Irving’s relationship with the Nets can’t be salvaged, Durant still has another superstar — one that he knows and that he’s close with — and the head coach that he wants in Nash to keep him happy in Brooklyn. 

It’s safe to say that Durant is priority No. 1. 

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