In the final hours of the trade deadline, the Brooklyn Nets left the league shellshocked when they pulled the trigger on a trade that sent 10-time NBA All-Star James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers. In exchange, the Nets received 3-time NBA All-Star Ben Simmons, sharpshooter Seth Curry, elite rebounder Andre Drummond, aand NBA Draft picks from their Eastern Conference Rival.
There had been speculation about a Harden trade in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. Multiple reports suggested that Harden had grown weary of Irving’s part-time status because he wouldn’t get vaccinated. But Celtics legend and ex-Nets star Paul Pierce says that regardless of his reason for wanting out of Brooklyn, Harden still has to be held accountable for his actions.
“When it gets tough, guys want to get going, and I don’t get it, you know. You have this great opportunity to play for these great different franchises and one name that really comes to mind is James Harden,” Pierce said during an appearance on the “Hoop Genius Podcast”.
“Not to deny James Harden, because he’s been a great player in our league, but I just think, you know, the places that he’s been, he’s been able to play with other great players.”
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Pierce on Harden’s Shortcomings: ‘He’s Never Happy’
James Harden has played with more future Hall of Famers than most. Yet he still has failed to make it back to the NBA Finals since his lone appearance with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.
Something always seems to go wrong, which causes a break-up between Harden and his co-star. The chemistry between him and Dwight Howard eventually wore off, and the Houston Rockets traded him. Friction arose between him and Chris Paul, which caused CP3 to get the boot as well. Then he was ultimately done in Houston altogether and forced a trade to the Nets. Now he is with the 76ers. Pierce says no matter where Harden goes, he never seems to be happy with the situation that he is in.
“All the teams that he has played for they have did everything they can to help him bring a championship,” Pierce continued.
“You know when he was in Houston, they got Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook. He had a chance to go to Brooklyn with KD and Kyrie. Just think about the talent he’s played with. Philly, Joel Embiid, you know ahh, and it just seems like he’s never happy. But you know, I’m happy I was able to win and stick it out in Boston, win the championship. Because if you’re gonna win a championship, you want to win one in Boston.”
Is Harden’s Title Window Already Closed?
While it may come off as brash, nothing that Pierce said when it comes to Harden is untrue. Harden has played with more NBA Hall of Famers than most players will in their entire career, and all he has to show for it is one Finals appearance. Aftter seeing what he did in his half-season in Philadelphia, averaging his lowest points per game average (22.0) since his days coming off the bench for the Thunder, his prime may be behind him.
But as Harden is exiting his prime, Embiid is entering his, finishing number two in NBA MVP voting, just behind the winner Nikola Jokic. Depending on the pieces that Sixers general manager Daryl Morey puts around his duo, Harden could still win that elusive first title, even with his best years behind him.