Kevin Durant said he is aware of rumors linking James Harden to the Nets, though the two-time NBA Finals MVP denied discussing a blockbuster move with his former teammate.
Harden reportedly wants to be traded to Brooklyn, where he would reunite with Durant and team up with Kyrie Irving.
MORE: Best and worst contracts of NBA free agency
“I don’t know where you’re making these stories up that me and James talked about any of this at a workout,” Durant told reporters Tuesday when asked about Harden, who played with Durant in Oklahoma City from 2009-2012. “I don’t know where that came from. James is a friend of mine, but I let the front office handle all of that stuff.”
A Harden trade would give the Nets one of the greatest individual offensive forces in NBA history along with Durant and Irving. In each of the past three seasons, Harden has won the NBA scoring title. Durant, who has not yet played for Brooklyn following an Achilles injury, has claimed four scoring titles of his own, and Irving holds a career average of 22.4 points per game.
Harden would also bring a resume with a lot of wins and postseason experience, as did Durant and Irving as former NBA champions with the Warriors and Cavaliers, respectively. The Nets have lost in the first round in back-to-back seasons. They last reached the NBA Finals in 2003.
The main issue of Harden joining the Nets would be how first-year head coach Steve Nash handles ball distribution.
Looking at the highest player usage percentages since 2014-15, Harden (second, 35.3 percent), Durant (eighth, 29.6 percent) and Irving (ninth, 29.4 percent) each rank in the top 10. The NBA average is 20 percent.
Durant also commented on his preparations for the 2020-21 season as he gears up for his Nets debut, having sat out the 2019-20 campaign due to an Achilles injury suffered as a member of the Warriors during the 2019 NBA Finals. He suited up for his first training-camp workout on Tuesday.
“I feel good playing. I am just taking it a day at a time,” Durant said. “I have been through surgeries and injuries before. But the longest recovery was three months. The first phase of the Achilles [recovery] was three months. You can’t walk around, you have to use a scooter.
“I’ve worked as hard as I could. I’ve been in the league 14 years; even if I didn’t have an Achilles, I wouldn’t be at 100 percent. It’s just wear and tear over time. [But] I feel solid.”
Nash does not expect Durant and Irving to play all 72 games, with the season scheduled to start on Dec. 22.
“It’s been such a layoff for both of them and in particular Kevin, with coming off one of the toughest injuries to deal with as a basketball player,” Nash said. “We have to be very careful with him and his adaptation process back into the game.
“Kevin has done everything you could ever have asked to put himself in this position. Perhaps we have to protect him from himself in a way because he brings so much joy and passion to the sport.”