Atlantic Notes: Harden, Simmons, Embiid, Knicks, Ntilikina

Nets superstar James Harden is ready to embrace the sacrifice needed for his team to succeed this season, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes.

Harden, who was acquired by Brooklyn in a massive three-team trade on Wednesday, joins a Nets team already featuring two of the league’s best offensive players in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The looming question, of course, is whether the three talents will be able to co-exist going forward.

“Chemistry. Sacrifice,” Harden said, as relayed by Lewis. “We’re all elite, so depending on the game and what’s going on throughout the course of the game, that’s going to determine who gets the ball and who makes the plays.

“We’re all unselfish, we’re all willing passers and we play basketball the right way.”

Harden is currently listed as questionable to play in Saturday’s game against Orlando, with Irving set to miss the game due to health and safety protocols. The team could have its full Big 3 available for Monday’s showdown against the defensive-minded Bucks on TNT.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division today:

  • Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer explores the fit between Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, a pairing he believes is still questionable even with some added shooting. Simmons was prepared for the possibility of being traded by the Sixers in a deal centered around Harden this past week, but Houston made a deal with Brooklyn instead.
  • The Knicks considered extending the contract of Mitchell Robinson last offseason, perhaps showing how they value the 22-year-old, Ian Begley of tweets. Robinson’s game remains a work in progress, but he possesses the tools needed to be an intriguing player for the future. In 13 games this season, he’s averaged 8.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per contest.
  • Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau issued a brief injury update on Frank Ntilikina, who hasn’t seen action since Dec. 29 due to a knee sprain. “We have to be patient and let him work through that,” Thibodeau said, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link). “He’s making steady progress. It will probably be a little while longer.”
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41 thoughts on “Atlantic Notes: Harden, Simmons, Embiid, Knicks, Ntilikina

  1. bowserhound

    Harden is such a joke. “I’m elite, I’m unselfish”

    • kingcong95

      Sure, by partying out late and putting on weight just to force a trade.

      • Reflect

        He really was just trying to help the Nets when he did all those things. What a great guy.

  2. Phillies012TG

    Bruh does harden really think him, kyrie and KD are all unselfish ???

    • afsooner02

      Doubt it but you it’s things they have to say….like “I wasn’t disrespectful when I left Houston”….just after you threw the entire team under the bus and ran over them a few times.

      • Phillies012TG

        I know i just find it hysterical, like Garnett saying “I don’t talk trash “

    • buttholesurfer69

      just listened to vernon make a great point on this on a podcast

      dude said KD wasnt happy on the most dominant team of the last two decades; Kyrie didnt even talk to his teammates DURING A CHAMPIONSHIP run; and Harden was unhappy with 4 guys standing around watching him dribble lmao

      These 3 guys are possibly the three BIGGEST prima donnas in the whole league (and thats saying something!) No way this isnt a soap opera within 90 days

  3. The Howler

    Probably play unselfish the first 3 quarters but what about the 4th? When the game is on the line and Kyrie or James forget “unselfish” and start playing iso ball, what happens to team chemistry? Durant has decent track record playing well with other stars. Harden and Irving piss them off (the team).

    • buttholesurfer69


      + durant left GSW bc of “it was steph’s team” BS

      and he’s the only consistently good defender of the 3 of them

      – so is KD gonna be happy if he’s forced to play the Bosh role here bc his running mates are sieves on D?

  4. Sillivan

    Which is a better team
    Lakers or Nets?

    That is the only thing I care
    I don’t care about selfish

    • Sillivan

      Lakers have better defense and better depth
      Nets have better offense and better big 3

      Who is better
      Durant or Davis?

  5. bumpy93

    a lot of fans calling into the sports talk shows here in Philadelphia are absolutely livid they didn’t trade Simmons to get hardened they think it was horrible and they just missed any chance they have of winning the title but if I’m more in a sixers you know the rumor was Simmons Tyrese maxi and also my matisse thuyble (sp?) along with some first-round picks and maybe even pick swaps I’m not sure man that that’s just a little too much for the 76ers to give up in my opinion. of course it would have sit there and put the 76ers right with the nets if not above the nets with harden and embiidbut they would have decimated their bench and we saw what the 76ers have looked like the last few seasons with no bench depth

    • PhillyPhan69

      Philly sports media is so stupid and they rope in most of the vocal, drunken irrational fan base who sits and regurgitates the nonsense from 94.1 and 97.5. Good old Negadelphia where they think if they complain loud and often enough it makes them passionate and educated. Love my Philly teams (and city) but can’t stand our media and a good portion of our fan base.

    • DeathbyDeathwest

      If I were Philly, I’d be more interested in trying to trade Embiid, who probably has more trade value than Simmons, but is also older and more injury prone.

      Let Simmons play the 3 or 4, surround him with shooters and an actual PG who can facilitate offense in the half court.

      • buttholesurfer69

        100% agree w/ this – ive never got why it’s automatically simmons in trade talks as if embiid is a perennially top 5 player

        even w/ ben’s crap shot, building around a perimeter dude is easier – to me at least – than building around a post guy, in this era

        • phillyballers

          Embiid is a 7fter that gets 25ppg, 11rb, shoots 84% from the line, and is shooting 39% from 3. And you want to move on from him? He is money from midrange as well.

          I’m a big Ben supporter but Joel is a Top-10 borderline Top-5 player. Ben is an All Star yes, but he isn’t on Jo’s level. Ben’s game requires others to perform, he rarely takes over a game offensively. If Ben starts developing his offense then theres no point in moving him. The only reason hes even potentially available is bc of his offensive shortcomings.

          • Simmons>Russ

            I wouldn’t trade either for now just let it roll. Embiid is playing like an MVP and Simmons is going to be an all nba level player his whole career just let them be. They are playing great and winning

  6. phillyballers

    Bradley Beal is the only player potentially available that I’d deal Simmons for. I forgot he might be available in a previous post.

    Wouldn’t do it for CJ, or anyone in the LaVine ilk.

    Miami wouldn’t deal their young players for Harden so I doubt they would for Beal.

    What package beats Ben Simmons and 1 or 2 1sts?

    • brian214

      I hope you’re not suggesting Philly is the one sending picks in a trade. I like Beal and think he’s a great fit but I’d be hesitant enough to trade Ben straight up for him much less actually adding additional assets. Overall I agree with everything you said (just not the picks).

      • phillyballers

        Wizards won’t trade unless they get overwhelmed. 1 or 2 late 1sts in the grand scheme isn’t much. It’s not full idiot mode like giving up every future 1st. The bad trades for PG13, Harden, and Jrue have made it a sellers market. My only hesitation is that you’re dealing for 1.5 years, he could and prob will opt out.

      • If you offered the Wizards only Ben Simmons for Bradley Beal, they would hang up before you even finished your sentence. It would be minimum Simmons and a first, probably two firsts since Philly will probably be a late round first for the next few years.

        • DeathbyDeathwest

          For Simmons/Beal, you almost need to bring in a third team to take Westbrook or Simmons..

  7. Marty McRae

    Sorry, but I just GOTTA break this down, because there’s so much delusion here:

    “The looming question, of course, is whether the three talents will be able to co-exist going forward. “Chemistry. Sacrifice,” Harden said.

    This is actually true. Yes, those things are key. However they are all team hoppers who have all left winning situations because of their own egos via a want to pad personal stats, and nothing more. That is not what “Chemistry. Sacrifice.” means. Sacrifice is being the only unanimous MVP ever and then giving up more personal hardware in exchange for 5 straight finals. Chemistry is putting your ego aside to work with players who can put that championship ring on your finger. KD might have had an argument on this point had he stayed in GSW, but him leaving was worse for his legacy in this regard than him joining them was (super hard for a lot of haters to comprehend this, as they are still stuck on the him joining part).

    “We’re all elite, so depending on the game and what’s going on throughout the course of the game, that’s going to determine who gets the ball and who makes the plays.”

    They are all most-of-the-time elite, also true, however all those other factors have never once happened to James Harden before, as he’s wilted in the postseason literally every year because all his teams have used the flawed offense that only builds his personal stats that will never beat the best teams.

    “We’re all unselfish,”

    HAHA KD turned his back on more rings with GSW because it would get in the way of his MVP and PPG crowns, there was literally no other reason for him to leave if he truly cared about winning titles. Kyrie and Harden are arguably the two most selfish players in the league. All three are team hoppers who simply will never be a true franchise player like a Steph Curry or Tim Duncan.

    “we’re all willing passers”

    Not in the playoffs, but sure.

    “and we play basketball the right way.”

    KD and Kyrie have rings, that’s what happens when you play basketball the right way. When you create cheat codes to shoot 30 free throws a game so you can boost your PPG averages and ESPN can make you the featured story in a loss for your team, that is literally the opposite of what “playing basketball the right way” means. The right way puts a ring on your finger. James Harden does not play basketball the right way, and never has, period.

    • buttholesurfer69

      marty, i actually 1000% agree w/ you here

      the only item i would add a caveat to is the rings comment

      KD has rings bc he joined a 73 win team

      Kyrie bc he played w LBJ

      In some ways both KD and Kyrie are just as unproven as Harden when it comes to actually LEADING a team to the championship

      as u aptly noted kd left gsw bc he wasnt the guy AFTER HE JOINED THEM AFTER THEY BEAT HIS TEAM in the playoffs

      You join a team that was BETTER than ur team and then u complain youre not “The Guy”? U cant make this stuff up

      • Marty McRae

        Ok those are fine queries, let me address:

        I take umbrage with the logic of “joining a 73 win team” that didn’t win a ring. All that season proved was win totals don’t matter, only a ring does. KD joined a team that lost the finals, that shouldn’t be a problem. How Lebron went to Miami is much, much worse than what KD did in joining GSW, but that’s an argument we will have until we are blue in the face, so lets agree to disagree there. End of day 73 wins did not get GSW a title, ergo 73 wins don’t mean a thing other than being the greatest 82 game season of all-time, which is not a ring, but a fine accomplishment regardless.

        It also doesn’t matter who else was on Kyrie’s team the year he won, it’s still a team game. Lebron is great but okay what if Kyrie was on the Warriors instead of Steph or KD all this time? Probably similar results. End of day he did what it took to get a chip, that’s literally all that matters. Lebron has an ego too and also can’t beat GSW in the playoffs, so lets not act like he isn’t constantly craving the spotlight (LBJ to NYK is inevitable).

        Your unnecessary argument of wanting a single player to “lead the team” to a championship is more espn-narrative nonsense that isn’t based in reality. It literally doesn’t matter, a chip is a chip is a chip, no matter how you get it (unless you are the Astros, in which case you cheated worse than the 1919 Black Sox did and should vacate the title).

    • lolzmets

      I nodded off 2 sentences in. Do you really think anyone is going to bother to read your mini article? At least James Harden isn’t a fat boy!

        • @Marty: ignore @lolzmets, I think he is a troll. I only ever see him insulting people and never putting anything out there that is worthwhile. He also gives Mets fans a bad name, though sometimes I don’t think we need much help.

      • DeathbyDeathwest

        He got 7 upvotes and a thoughtful reply, so obviously yes, people read his mini article.

        In other news, James Harden is both overweight and childish. If that doesn’t make him a fat boy, idk what does.

  8. Lakers1

    Let’s not forget durant had to join curry and thompson and green to get a ring and kyrie never led a team to a 500 record until lebron was his teammate..theirs a reason why teams do better when kyrie is not playing.. Boston went to East finals with kyrie injured and imploded the following season with him leading.. same with nets last year and they seem to be playing better without him this year.. for all the questions about who’s better nets or lakers? Real easy.. lakers.. playoffs are when teams can execute game plans for a 7 game series.. Defense and chemistry win rings..nets don’t have the depth.. lakers in 5

  9. Sillivan

    NBA shot block leaders top 35
    31 of them are center and PF

    Ranking for guards and Small Forwards
    7 Wiggins
    20 Grant
    32 Bridges – Hornets
    35 Ben Simmons

    Wiggins are far better than Simmons
    Wiggins are far better than LeBron and Durant
    Wiggins are far better than any guards and small forwards

  10. With Philly I see a very poor fit between Joel and Ben. They get in each others way.

    I’m no coach but surely you have success feeding Joel on the block all game surrounding him with shooters. Coaches seem overly cautious of any kind of repetition. Last night’s Mil/Dal game is a case in point – Giannis was one of ten from the stripe but they refused to foul him and lost a close one with Johnson and Cauley-Stein biting on three point pump fakes in the closing minutes. What is the thinking there? It’s the same thinking that doesn’t think to put Joel on the block every time down the floor. Who can guard him there? 2013 Marc Gasol? Steven Adams?
    Simmons is basically a worse-shooting Giannis and teams have learned from Toronto how to guard against a game reliant on driving for layups. Sit back off the man and build a wall and let the supporting cast shoot. Milwaukee have more success because that’s Middleton and now Holiday, but with Philly I’ll live with Joel and Harris shooting the three.

    • Sillivan

      76ers are planning to trade Ben Simmons

      Wiggins is comparable to Simmons because Wiggins can shoot from the three

      Trade value
      Simmons = Wiggins + one Warriors future First

      Wiggins + Wolves pick >>> Simmons

      • Marty McRae

        Then flip Oubre at end of this season for literally anyone and run with

        Splash+Simmons+Dray+Wiseman = broke the game 2.0

        Bring Iggy back on the vets min just to never have to watch low IQ players ever again lol

        One thing is for sure, its shaping up to be a VERY fun and WINNING next 5 years after this one for GSW

        • KezarMike

          Oubre can’t be flipped at end of season. He’s on a one year contract.

          Simmons is a great player. So what if he can’t shoot. He’s their Draymond. Just surround him with shooters.

  11. Cap & Crunch

    This will surely end in a bang…..the only question now “Will confetti be falling from the rafters when it does?”

    Idk, its kind of refreshing to see a team just completely throw all caution to the wind and just go for it! Its so uncommon these days (mostly for job security reasons)

    You have the tear-down, the rebuild, the on the rise, solid core, 1 player away archetypes now BRK just creates the FU mold and steps right in

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