James Harden will embark on his first full season with the Brooklyn Nets when they jet-set to San Diego for training camp in late September. Harden spent most of last season with the Nets, but this came after a blockbuster trade that brought him to Brooklyn from the Houston Rockets in mid-January.
Harden averaged 24.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 10.9 assists per game in 36 games for the Nets last season. His numbers look a lot different than they did in Houston after averaging 30-plus points per game in each of his last three seasons. Playing with superior offensive talents like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving meant Harden did not have to carry as heavy of an offensive load. He could focus on distributing the ball, a version of Harden that fans never got a chance to see in Houston.
“The situation that I was with in Houston, consistently, in every single night, having to get 40 points to give ourselves a chance to win for long-extended years, is draining,” Harden told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in February.
“So, just to have a skill set of guys where you can be a playmaker, you can get guys involved and not have to necessarily worry about scoring each possession. It’s a little bit relieving to me.”
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Kendrick Perkins Sounds off on Kyrie & Harden’s Nets Futures
Harden is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2023 in which case he will have to choose between remaining with the Nets or signing with another team. Retired forward and ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins won a championship with the Celtics in 2008. He believes that Harden’s situation with the Nets is as good as it will get for him.
“I think James Harden signs back. Where is he going? You have Kevin Durant there who signed and locked in a deal long-term; Kyrie Irving… we never know, but I figure that he wants to finish out at home,” Perkins said to Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson of Bally Sports Network.
“But when you look at James Harden — James Harden is a guy that when you watched him play 8 to 9 years at Houston. He’s a guy that loves to be comfortable and I think being in this situation being alongside KD, I think that he will be in a Brooklyn Net jersey next year and in the years to come. It’s no other better situation that he can get himself in than this situation that he’s in right now.”
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Sean Marks Wants Irving & Harden Extensions Done Before Camp
Nets general manager Sean Marks has been quite busy this summer. He hasn’t exactly hit a home run like he did when executed the trade for Harden at the top of the year. But he has made some key moves including free agency deals for key players such as Patty Mills, Paul Millsap, and LaMarcus Aldridge.
His biggest move this summer unquestionably has to be inking Durant to a 4-year/$198 million contract extension which will lock him in with the franchise until the 2025-26 season. While locking up Durant long-term is a big-time move, Marks’ bigger picture is to have Irving and Harden inked to long-term deals along with Durant. Preferably before training camp begins.
“I feel very confident that first day of training camp, we’ll be looking at those three, in particular, being signed, sealed, and delivered and being a part of the Brooklyn Nets for a long time to come,” Marks said per NetsDaily.
With Durant locked in to be a Net for at least the next five seasons, Nets fans should already be feeling good about their competitiveness in the future. If they can get Harden and Irving locked for the long-term, we could be looking at the makings of the next great dynasty.