Earlier this week, Nets star James Harden went out of his way to deny the rumors about potentially playing with Joel Embiid next season.
Speaking to reporters, he reaffirmed his loyalty to Brooklyn while downplaying the notion that he intends to change jerseys in the summer:
"I don't know about any reports. Of course I'm frustrated because we're not healthy. It's a lot of inconsistency for whatever reason. I think everybody in this organization is frustrated, because we are better than what our record is. We should be on the way up. That's all it is... I don't talk to nobody, I have an agent. I don't know reports. If you don't hear from me, then it's reports. I'm frustrated because I want to win, and I'm a competitor. It's pretty simple."
The rumors come amid concerning tomes for the Nets. Losers of two straight, and 5 of their last 10, Brooklyn isn't meeting early-season expectations and questions continue to surface about the stat of the team.
While Harden's statement helped to ease tensions in New York, not everyone is convinced he was being entirely truthful. In an appearance on NBA Today, ESPN's Kendrick Perkins cast further doubt on Harden's future in Brooklyn before proclaiming that he doesn't blame the star one bit if he decides to leave town.
“If I’m James Harden, I’m ready to get the hell out. If that’s the case, if I can’t [convince Kyrie to get vaccinated], if I came here and I didn’t know I was dealing with this situation and [Kyrie] was going to act like this…. I don’t blame [Harden]. I don’t blame him for not signing that contract extension. I don’t blame him for being frustrated right now. Hell, I don’t blame him if he leaves this summer, to be honest, because he deserves better. One thing that we all could agree on at this panel right now is when it comes down to James Harden being reliable and showing up to work, he has done that and has not disappointed us.”
Harden was traded to the Nets in 2021, and his tenure so far has been anything but successful. During the playoffs, Harden's injury-riddled squad got bounced early only to face Kyrie Irving's distracting antics the next season.
Now, Harden is having to carry a broken Nets team while being bombarded with questions about Irving and his own future with the organization.
It would be enough to make anyone want out, but we'll find out Harden's true intentions soon enough.