SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports activities’ Jeff Zillgitt breaks down the blockbuster business that despatched James Harden to the Nets and whether or not or no longer he can gel with teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.


The 2 NBA stars have led their groups with dynamic scoring and playmaking. However they’ve alienated their groups with their selfishness and perspective.

The 2 NBA stars have proven they may be able to assist their workforce win with take hold of pictures and every now and then with protection. However additionally they have abandoned their groups when they’ve wanted them probably the most.

So how can James Harden and Kyrie Irving co-exist at the Brooklyn Nets when they’ve constantly allowed their destructive behavior to overshadow their All-Megastar skill?

Nets trainer Steve Nash didn’t say a lot on the ones dynamics or the rest involving the Harden business as it wasn’t legitimate. Neither did Nets famous person Kevin Durant, whose standpoint issues for a lot of causes.

He has develop into the Nets’ best scorer and chief. He has remained shut pals with Irving. He is aware of what makes Harden tick after taking part in in combination in Oklahoma Town (2009-12) sooner than Harden left for the Rockets for more cash and a larger position.

Kyrie Irving and James Harden will develop into teammates at the Nets. (Photograph: Emilee Chinn, Getty Pictures)

Via two NBA titles and two Finals MVP awards out of 3 Finals appearances with the Golden State Warriors, Durant mastered the best way to supplement his All-Megastar teammates (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Inexperienced) whilst nonetheless closing one of the crucial league’s best gamers.

Regardless that Durant described his time with Harden in Oklahoma Town as “a laugh”, I will not see how the Harden-Irving pairing can be.

Not like what Durant confirmed in Golden State, Harden and Irving have constantly failed to steer. Additionally they have constantly did not paintings with their famous person teammates.

Certain, Irving helped the Cavaliers win the 2016 NBA name partially after creating a take hold of Three-pointer in opposition to Golden State in Sport 7. A bit of greater than a 12 months later, Irving asked the Cavaliers to business him amid reported pressure with LeBron James. He would possibly devour a large number of oxygen in a room. However no person can query James’ skill and that his presence results in team-oriented play.

Then, Irving wore out his welcome in Boston via alienating his more youthful, blossoming teammates. After lacking 62 video games ultimate season in Brooklyn amid season-ending surgical treatment to his proper shoulder, Irving may no longer determine himself ultimate season. This season, Irving confirmed promising indicators along with his play and chemistry with Durant sooner than lacking the previous 5 video games as a result of undisclosed non-public causes. The NBA has also investigated video that shows Irving violating the league’s protocols by attending his sister’s birthday without wearing a mask.

“I haven’t had an opportunity to know any new details about Kyrie’s situation,” Nash said. “I’ll just rely on the front office to learn more as we go. They’re the ones that I think are going to do the messaging on that front.”


What I’m Hearing: USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt relays what he’s hearing from the Brooklyn Nets on star Kyrie Irving’s absence from the team.


Sure, Harden thrived with Durant in Oklahoma City, but he hadn’t fully blossomed into a star yet. Sure, Harden recorded three NBA scoring titles while leading the Rockets to three Western Conference Finals out of seven playoff appearances. Sure, Dwight Howard’s immaturity played a larger role in their dissolved partnership (2013-16). Sure, the Rockets might have won an NBA title if not for Chris Paul’s hamstring injury in Game 5 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals against Golden State. Sure, Harden and Russell Westbrook showed decent chemistry during their lone season last year.

Still, Harden bears responsibility for the Rockets’ Game 7 collapse against Golden State in 2018 that coincided with Houston missing 27 consecutive 3-pointers. Harden deserves scrutiny that both Paul and Westbrook took issue with both his high usage rate and his work habits. Though Harden had right to feel frustrated with the Rockets’ direction amid departures by an accomplished head coach (Mike D’Antoni) and general manager (Daryl Morey), he had no right to disrespect his teammates and break the safety protocols so openly.

“The (Harden) disrespect started way before – his approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, his antics off the court,” Rockets center DeMarcus Cousins said before Houston traded Harden. “It’s completely unfair to the rest of the guys in the locker room.”

That leaves the Nets with various questions to answer on how Harden will fit in their locker room.

The main one: How will two ball-dominant guards be able to coexist and not experience significant chemistry issues?

“That’s a great hypothetical,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “We can address that at another time.”

 Because the trade is not official, Nash could not entertain how Harden and Irving would share ball handling duties. Or how Harden, Irving and Durant would carry the bulk of the scoring. Or how the Nets would absorb the depth they sacrificed in guard Caris LeVert, center Jarrett Allen, forward Taurean Prince.

But these are hypotheticals Nash will have to answer soon.

“Basketball is about playing together and being the best you can be,” Nash said. “So no matter who you are, it’s about finding that connectivity and balance within a team and trying to be greater than the sum of your parts. That doesn’t change no matter what your team looks like.”

To be clear, my skepticism about the Harden-Irving pairing does not necessarily have much to do with the Nets themselves.

Nets general manager Sean Marks has done a masterful job with collecting assets, building a culture and then making big-time moves. In today’s NBA, such moves are made after knowing directly or indirectly how the team would feel about it. The Nets could still win an NBA title or at a high level despite any tension between Irving and Harden. Besides, Irving or Harden could become the replacement for the other should Marks find it necessary to trade one of them later.

Just as he did during his 19-year Hall of Fame playing career, Nash knows how to inspire people around him and cement a team-oriented culture. Just as he did during his four years in Houston,  D’Antoni knows how to elevate Harden’s game as a Nets assistant coach. Just as he did during his three years in Golden State, Durant knows how to fit in with other All-Stars while still remaining one of the league’s best scorers.  

Nash, D’Antoni and Durant have have enough experience to know how well-intentioned ideas can lead to disaster.

Nash joined the Lakers in 2012-13 in hopes to win his first NBA title. Instead, he spent that season battling injuries, clashing with Howard over his attitude and unsuccessfully persuading Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to embrace D’Antoni’s offense that put less premium on post-up play. D’Antoni struggled managing those varying player agendas and personalities. Though he coached the Rockets to plenty of success, he also saw up close the tension that Harden had with Paul and Westbrook. Durant spent most of his time winning in Golden State, but he also experienced the occasional tension over the team’s offense, his pending free agency and Draymond Green’s personality.

Expect the experience with Harden and Irving to become much more difficult. Unlike Curry, Thompson and Green, neither Harden nor Irving has consistently shown their willingness to buy into a team concept. They mostly look for their own and only occasionally defer to others. They have shown decent defensive effort in big and small moments, but those times only happen sporadically. And they already have shown troubling signs this season that they don’t take the safety protocols as seriously as they should.

The result? Harden and Irving might help the Nets win some games and score a lot of points. But their pairing will disrupt the team’s culture and championship hopes. Both players have proven they can do wonders with the basketball. They have not shown enough evidence, however, that they can avoid spending their energy fighting over it.

Follow USA TODAY NBA writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Fb and Instagram. 


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