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    COLUMN: Harden should be welcomed in Brooklyn - as a tourist, not as a Net

    Nov 16, 2020
    spin zone

    CHICAGO - According to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, James Harden is "interested" with the idea of playing for the Nets.

    It only makes sense for The Beard to pine for a change of scenery. His chief enabler, head coach Mike D'Antoni, is gone. And so is his primary backer, former GM Daryl Morey.

    His home for eight NBA seasons, Houston also turned out to be Harden's professional hellhole, the birthplace of repeated attempts to win a chip, a failed pursuit that was lowlighted by some of his most inglorious playoffs performances.

    It's time to move on, to reboot, so to speak.

    Having said that, I think Harden should be welcomed and embraced in Brooklyn.

    But only as a tourist.

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    The trigger-happy 2018 league MVP shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the Barclays Center or other places where the Nets have been known to congregate.

    He will be toxic to a relatively young group that is still hoping to find its identity as a team at a time when two of its cornerstones - Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving - are about to emerge from injuries that have tethered them for months.

    And I say that not because Harden is a bad guy. I say that because he may not be an ideal piece under rookie NBA head coach Steve Nash, a brilliant point guard who will likely mandate an edict of communal play, not the iso ball that Harden was spoiled playing as a Rocket.

    And the much-cherished chemistry wouldn't be there, too.

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    Whether it was with Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and most recently, Russell Westbrook, Harden appeared to lack either the ability or willingness, maybe even both, to play with another star.

    It would then be foolish for the Nets to believe that Harden, now 31 and empowered as an eight-time All-Star, can suddenly co-exist with two superstars who have won three NBA titles between them.


    But he is not necessarily a good teammate on the court.


      With their party barely getting started, the Nets will be better served not to invite Harden. The Beard reminds of a horror house guest that isn't shy, the type who will talk over a conversation, eat large portions, and download large files on your Wifi.

      Who wants that?

      Seriously though, Harden averaged 22.3 field goals a game last season and will make $40.8 million this upcoming season. He will demand the volume of shots commensurate to his salary.

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      With another ball hog already on the roster in Irving, a typical Nets possession could see 130 fancy, aimless dribbles that lead only to one ugly shot.

      Speaking of Irving, the mercurial playmaker couldn't co-exist with LeBron in Cleveland, couldn't gel with the Celtics in Boston. It remains to be seen how he melds with Durant.

      Adding Harden to the equation might just turn those Brooklyn Nets into the Broken Nets.

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      The reunion involving Harden and Durant, who played together in Oklahoma City early in their careers, is not lost on me. But second chance hook-ups, like previously fractured rock bands. are more tragic than romantic.

      Harden's critics often accuse him of loving to "travel."

      Depending on your math and how well you count from one to three, there may be some truth to that.

      But with five weeks to go before the 2020-21 NBA season tips off, Harden will probably realize that there is no place like home in Houston.

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      PHOTO: AP
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