Joe Vardon of The Athletic looked at a variety of NBA topics and offered the anonymous executive’s opinion that Irving would be the key player dealt by the Nets in any Harden trade.
“Harden wants to be traded and the Nets are one of his preferred destinations, though he cannot pick where he goes if he’s moved,” Vardon wrote. “The wide belief is if there were a deal to be had between Brooklyn and Houston, the Nets would move their plethora of younger, rising starters and role players. But I talked to a league exec Tuesday who thought the trade, if it happened, would have to be centered around Harden and Kyrie.”
Harden remains determined to force a trade from the Rockets after reportedly indicating in November that he wanted to be traded because of Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta’s support of President Donald Trump.
A Rockets deal with the Nets would reunite Harden with his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant. One of the reasons that the speculation about Irving being included exists is because of the need to accommodate Harden’s huge annual salary.
Given the controversy surrounding Irving’s behavior in recent weeks, the Rockets may be reluctant to acquire the veteran guard who also has a lengthy injury history.
The Nets are not the only team that Harden has been linked to since making his trade demand. The Philadelphia 76ers are also seen as a real possibility.