The Brooklyn Nets returned to action in the very first game of the 2020/21 NBA season, demolishing the Golden State Warriors, 125-99, with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving leading the way, combining for 48 points. The Nets put up a show against the Warriors and plenty of people are seeing them as the biggest threat for the Los Angeles Lakers this campaign.
However, not everybody thinks the same. It seems like the Nets need one last piece before having a real chance to beat the purple and gold and ESPN's Stephen A. Smith has identified it. During a recent edition of 'First Take', the veteran analyst explained that the Nets need James Harden on the roster to be able to beat the Lakers. That, as usual, sparked a big debate between Smith and his co-host, Max Kellerman, which ended in Stephen A. roasting Max for his takes.
Kellerman made the case against the Nets trading for Harden, explaining he was going to make the team worse (0:48 mark).
"The Nets should absolutely not trade for James Harden," Kellerman said. "You don't want a ball-stopper, who by the way had chemistry issues with other stars in the past, even when they get along well off the court. The most important issue for me is, I think he makes the Nets worse. I mean, Harden is a great player (...) KD and Kyrie are working extremely well together, these are two guys that can do a lot of things, including shooting the ball. Look at how well the team is moving the ball, playing unselfishly, shooting from the outside, do everything you want them to do and look at the depth. They have depth on the team that is going to allow them to get out of the East and you'll not sacrifice that for a dude that will come in, stop the ball and maybe, create chemistry issues."
After that, Stephen A. went off on Kellerman, looking for responses as to why he would say that the Nets would be worse if they landed Harden. If that wasn't enough, Smith told Kellerman he would ask the basketball authorities to arrest him for making such a bold claim (2:58 mark).
He explained that Harden comes from averaging 30 points per game in the last couple of seasons, is one of the best scorers of all time and has the tools to make the Nets a better team than they already are. The analyst claimed that the team doesn't have enough talent to beat the Lakers right now but the addition of Harden would take them to the next level and make them a real contender in the East.
To be fair, the Nets played really great against the Warriors in the season opener and that ball movement was remarkable. It would be hard to see Harden adapting to that style of play; he's been a ball-hog during all his years in Houston and unless he really commits to winning a title with Brooklyn and changes his style of play, it seems very hard for people to see Harden doing any good to the Nets.