The NBA is at a bit of a crossroads. On one hand, you have the player empowerment era, which for the most part I am in favor of. If teams are going to go about their business and do what's best for them, why shouldn't players do what they can to have their own amount of control. It sounds good in theory, but then we get situations like AD, Paul George, and now James Harden where these superstar players are demanding to be traded and sitting out/not showing up to camp despite there being multiple years left on their deal. You would think that as long as you are under contract, you honor the deal you signed. Where it gets messy is that a team can trade these guys at any time to whatever team they want. Even if it's early in their current deal. That's equally as fucked up, but that's life in the NBA.
Enter the Houston Rockets. I dunno if you've heard, but they have a bit of a predicament on their hands. Despite essentially being under contract for 3 more seasons, James Harden wants out. He's giving his list of where he wants to go, ranging from Brooklyn to Philly, and now recently either Milwaukee or Miami. This is funny because ya know...he has zero leverage. Less than zero actually due to that contract he signed. The Rockets don't have to do a goddamn thing. Call his bluff and see if he's willing to waste 2 years of his prime. They are in no rush to have to trade him.
Which is why asking for either Durant or Kyrie in return for Harden is EXACTLY what they should be doing. Blue-chip player for blue-chip player. Why should they accept Caris LeVert and the Nets trash for an MVP caliber player? Because he wants to go to Brooklyn? No thanks. It's why they should be doing the same thing for Philly. You want Harden, it'll cost you either Embiid or Simmons. When you're the team with all the leverage, you can afford to ask for the moon. What's the worst thing that can happen, Harden will leave or want out? How is that any different from where the Rockets are right now. He's going to turn down his $40M player option to hit the market a year early? Well, almost all the teams he wants to go to will not have the space to sign him. There's MIA if they miss on Giannis, but who knows if Pat Riley will be down for Harden.
I do wonder though, should the Nets.....consider this? Not KD, but Kyrie. I know the whole plan was KD and Kyrie playing together and then trying to add another star to that team, but what is the better duo. KD and Harden or KD and Kyrie? A player coming off a season in which he played 20 games or James Harden who never misses a game. It also gives you more reliable KD insurance in the event he takes some time to get his legs under him. Now I don't know why the Rockets would want Kyrie if they just traded for John Wall, but hey whatever. There's obviously no chance BKN would do this, which is why the deal is probably dead, but I wonder if they revisit this idea depending on how this season goes. What if Kyrie plays like...40 games and has another playoff performance like he did against the Bucks two seasons ago. The Nets window is now, and unless they go on a run this season, you're talking about 2 years of this experiment out the window. Perhaps biting the bullet and trying the KD/Harden pairing might be the better path.