Nets general manager Sean Marks said the decision to move on from James Harden was a difficult one, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
“Make no bones about it: We went all-in on getting James Harden and inviting him to the group,” Marks said during a video conference call discussing the trade deadline Friday afternoon. “And these decisions to move on from a player like that, of that caliber, are never easy ones. I just want to be clear that this is not something that you think, great, let’s just make a split decision and move on from that. I give James a lot of credit for having open dialogue, open discussions with me and with the group, [Nets coach Steve Nash] and [owner] Joe Tsai and everybody over the last 24, 48 hours.
“Again, I said they’re not easy, but I think that’s something we pride ourselves on is being open and honest. James was honest with us and we were honest with him. I think it’s a move that enables him to have a fresh start, enables this team to have a fresh start, without trying to push things to make things work. If we realize this is not going to work, short-term or long-term, then it’s time to say for both parties involved, this is better off.”
Marks went on to say that trading Harden wasn’t about the team’s 10-game losing streak, it was based on his entire tenure in Brooklyn, and the newly-acquired players help the Nets in ways that Harden couldn’t.
“It’s not just eight or nine games,” he said. “The things that we’ve had to deal with over the course of the last year since James has been here is, to be quite frank, the Big Three, quote unquote, haven’t had significant time to play together for a variety of different circumstances. So, I think the frustration is more in that than in eight or nine games. Obviously it was not, and it currently isn’t, trending in the right direction, but we’re not going to make a decision off of one, two, five games, whatever it may be. The sample size has to be bigger. And at that point, we’re sitting here saying, ‘Yeah. We’ve seen enough.’ On both sides.
“We obviously thank James immensely for everything he’s done. Let’s be honest, he’s come in here and set all kinds of Brooklyn Nets records in such a short time. He’s a hell of a player, without a doubt. Again, these are not easy decisions, but we’re very grateful for what James has done over his short time here, but at the same time, adding these three players — Seth [Curry], Andre [Drummond] and Ben [Simmons] — help us in needs James doesn’t fulfill.”
When asked if the Sixers tampered by talking to Harden, Marks said that was for the league to decide.
“Unfortunately, the world we live in right now, so much of this is being played out in the media,” Marks said, per Bontemps. “So much of this is, whether it’s scuttlebutt, hearsay, and so forth, it’s just the nature of the beast. It’s just the nature of the world we’re in. I’m not going to start making accusations at everybody else. Again, this particular set of circumstances was played out in the media far earlier than any conversations were ever had. I don’t know and again if this is where it ends up, that will be completely up to the league to look into these set of circumstances.”
There are several more interesting quotes from Marks in Bontemps’ article. I recommend checking it out.
Here’s more on the Nets:
- Kyrie Irving said there were hints that Harden was unhappy in Brooklyn, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post relays. “I can’t really say that you feel that [unhappiness] in the locker room, but we get hints,” Irving said. “So we just wish him well. We want him to be ultimately successful. Now we move forward with the guys that are coming in. We’re excited. I just want everyone to be happy and do things they love to do, and be a part of things they can see themselves being successful at. It probably wasn’t here with us and he made a choice and we respect him for it. No love lost.”
- Nets guard Patty Mills said that his fellow Australian Simmons is in a good place at the moment, Lewis writes in a separate article for the Post. “He’s in a really good place right now, speaking to him a fair bit lately and seeing what he’s been up to in terms of staying ready and getting his body right and getting game ready,” Mills said. “So it was good and pleasing for me to see and feel where he’s at. From that standpoint, you get a really hungry person who’s looking forward to playing basketball again, and especially with our group.”
- Nash was reflective on what could have been with the “Big Three” era, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “You’re up 2-0 against the NBA champs, and then to not have James in the first games and then Kyrie in the last games, James being on one leg, Jeff Green being out of the lineup, all sorts of things that hampered our opportunity to win,” Nash said. “To take them to overtime in Game 7, you definitely think there are some what-ifs, but that’s life. You can’t look back. You’ve got to look forward.”