Harden made it known privately that he didn’t want to play for the Nets anymore and got his wish of playing for the Sixers, who have Joel Embiid, Daryl Morey and Michael Rubin, three men the Beard is close with.
Once Harden became frustrated playing for the Nets, he began distancing himself from the team with a similar pattern to how he forced a trade from the Houston Rockets during the 2020-21 season. The one-time MVP was seemingly determined to let Brooklyn players, coaches and front office personnel know that he wasn’t “all in.”
Harden Went Clubbing in Houston After Spurs Game
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, Harden left the Nets and went to Houston after posting a 37-point triple-double against the San Antonio Spurs on January 21. The All-Star guard went clubbing and played poorly once he rejoined Brooklyn on January 23, scoring just 13 points on 13 shot attempts against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“After posting an emphatic 37-point triple-double on 13-of-24 shooting at the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 21, Harden left the team for Houston and a night of clubbing, B/R has learned,” Fischer wrote in his report. “He rejoined the traveling party in Minnesota for a Jan. 23 game against the Timberwolves and scored just 13 points on 13 attempts.
“After playing as Brooklyn’s lone All-Star against LeBron’s Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 25, Harden dismissed that day’s B/R story of his discontent as ‘reports,’ but people across the NBA noted his animation while he acknowledged his frustration. Harden followed that news conference by sitting out the next evening against the Denver Nuggets, leaving Brooklyn without all three of its megastars. It raised eyebrows across the franchise—Durant included—about Harden’s wavering loyalty, sources said.”
Harden’s final game with the Nets was on February 2 versus the Sacramento Kings. He shot 2-of-11 from the field and finished with four points, seven rebounds, 12 assists and six turnovers. It was after that game when everyone in Brooklyn knew Harden had mentally checked out.
Harden Showed up to Jazz Game at Halftime, Went to Las Vegas After
Harden didn’t play against the Utah Jazz on February 4 due to a “hamstring” injury. According to Fischer, the lefty didn’t arrive at the game until halftime and flew to Las Vegas after the contest ended.
“Harden didn’t arrive at the Jazz game until halftime, sources told B/R,” Fisher wrote. “When it concluded and Brooklyn continued with its planned itinerary to Denver, Harden flew to Las Vegas, sources said. When asked to confirm the account, one person close to Harden chuckled before responding, ‘That sure sounds like James, doesn’t it?'”
Over FaceTime calls as the trade deadline neared, Harden told Nets general manager Sean Marks and owner Joe Tsai that he wanted a trade to the Sixers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Kevin Durant and Harden barely spoke to each other before the latter was traded, as their relationship became sour.
Per Fischer, Durant called Marks and told him to trade Harden to the Sixers for a package centered on Simmons. During the 2022 All-Star Draft on TNT, KD refused to draft Harden, who went last and will play on LeBron James’ team.