With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets already had all they needed to contend for a title. As two of the best offensive players in the league, they had enough fire-power to propel the Nets far into the postseason.
So when the Nets later traded for James Harden, it vaulted them from Eastern Conference threats to NBA favorites.
Still, sheer fire-power alone wasn't the only factor in motivating Brooklyn to make a move for The Beard. Apparently, according to Anthony Puccio, Harden was also brought on as an insurance policy for Irving.
Governing owner Joe Tsai is in China and is not expected back in New York until the end of the month. He has still been very much hands-on in all of this.
Sources explained last year that Tsai was unhappy during Kyrie Irving’s hiatus in the 2020-21 season.
Thus, trading for James Harden not only assured a superteam, but provided insurance in the event Kyrie wasn’t available — no matter what the reasons were/are.
Irving would be eligible for a 5-year, $235 million contract next summer if he were to decline his player option.
Even before this ordeal, Kyrie's availability had been spotty. In fact, he has missed 27% of games throughout his career and hasn't played a single season where he doesn't miss at least 10 games.
Injuries aside, Irving sometimes just invents new excuses to not suit up. Just last season, he missed a game simply because he "didn't want to play." Of course, he went on a two-week-long hiatus that year as well, which Irving attributed to "family stuff."
Needless to say, it seems were aware of Kyrie's habits -- and prepared for it by acquiring James Harden.
While having the full trio available will obviously help the Nets tremendously, Harden and Durant might be on their own this season. It's a good thing they're more than capable of picking up the slack.