Nets’ James Harden upgraded to Doubtful for Game 5 against Bucks

Will the Nets have James Harden available tonight? The answer could change between now and tipoff. But here’s the latest, via the New York Post:

With Brooklyn facing a desperate Eastern Conference semifinal Game 5, injured James Harden has been upgraded from out to doubtful Tuesday vs. Milwaukee.

“I don’t know if (he’s out) or not. I might have to wait,” Nets coach Steve Nash had said Monday. “He’s working out, so I have no idea if that means he has a chance for (Game 5) or not. I think there’s a plan behind the scenes that I don’t totally know what the deal is and then they’ll give us an update. But he’s working out.”

Harden went down just 43 seconds into this second-round series with what has been deemed right hamstring tightness. The Nets won the first two games without him at Barclays Center, but proceeded to drop the next two in Milwaukee to see the Bucks level the series and steal the momentum.

James Harden is having yet another amazing season

James Harden, traded by the Rockets to the Nets in mid January, continues to prove that he’s the rare type of superstar who can move mountains on a basketball court. Via the New York Post:

Where would the Nets, who are tied for the lead in the Eastern Conference, be without trading for Harden? Durant hasn’t played since Feb. 13 but the Nets are 12-1 without him as part of an extended 14-1 stretch. Irving was on a personal leave of absence when Harden was acquired and he has sat out three games during the recent surge, including Wednesday’s win over the Pacers, due to various shoulder and groin injuries.

“James is so elite he’s able to make the big plays that very few people can make down the stretch,” Nash said after coaching Harden through his 11th triple-double (40 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds) in 42 minutes on Wednesday. “When he plays that many minutes, he stuffs the stat sheet. I could go on and on about James and the nuances of what he does all night, but he definitely is a winner, a leader, and an elite, elite performer.”

The Nets are 28-13 this season, which ties them with the Sixers for the best record in the Eastern conference.

Their leading scorers so far in 2020-21 are Durant at 29.0 points per game (just 19 games played), Irving at 27.6 ppg, Harden at 25.7 ppg, and Joe Harris at 14.7 ppg.

Nets win streak ends with loss to Mavs

With two of the Nets big three out, the Nets on Friday fell to a Mavericks squad that recently welcomed Kristaps Porzingis back to action. Via the NY Post:

The NBA’s longest winning streak ended Saturday with a thud, the sound of the red-hot Nets crashing back down from Cloud 9.

The Nets were undersized and undermanned, playing without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. But they aren’t using any of that an alibi for getting thrashed, 115-98, by Dallas at Barclays Center.

“No, this is a no-excuse team. If you’re on the floor, you’re going to play as hard as you can. They just got the best of us, and they got the win. That’s all it really was,” said Jeff Green, forced out of the game as well. “It’s not about us running out of gas or anything. We just didn’t come ready to play and they won.”

Not only did Irving’s scratch to rest his surgically repaired right shoulder pare the Big 3 down to a Big 1 in James Harden, the Nets also saw Tyler Johnson ruled out just before tipoff with a migraine and Green’s own shoulder injury removed him with 3:17 left in the third.

And the NY Daily News:

On one end of the floor, Luka Doncic spins off his man, drives down the lane and euro-steps around James Harden for the easy basket. On the other, Harden lulls his man to sleep, one flurry of crossovers after another, before stepping back for a contested three that borders on equal parts un-guardable and flat-out unfair.

Watching Doncic and Harden go toe-to-toe at Barclays Center on Saturday was like the viral meme of two Spidermen pointing at one another. Doncic finished with 27 points, seven assists and the victory, while Harden recorded 29 points and six assists in a superstar showdown that substantiated the similarities between the two offensive masterminds.

“Both of these guys are great one-on-one players,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. “They’re great passers. They can both play the team movement game very well. Harden has been in a situation the last few years where the offense has really revolved around him, and our team it does around Luka similarly, but our style is a little bit different than Houston and Brooklyn, but both of these guys are generational type players. There’s no question about it, and that’s another thing that makes a game like this very compelling.”

In the Mavs win, supporting Doncic’s effort was Porzingis with 18 points, four rebounds, three blocks in 26 minutes, Tim Hardaway Jr. scoring 13 off the bench, Dorian Finney-Smith with 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, and Josh Richardson with 11 points.

James Harden, Damian Lillard named NBA Players of Week

The NBA announced today that Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week and Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard named Western Conference Player of the Week for games played from Monday, Feb. 15, through Sunday, Feb. 21.

The honor is Harden’s second as a Net and the 26th Player of the Week award of his career.

Harden led Brooklyn to a perfect 4-0 week, registering averages of 31.8 points on 55.0 percent shooting from the field, 48.6 percent shooting from 3-point range and 80.8 percent shooting from the free-throw line, 9.0 rebounds, 10.8 assists and 1.3 steals in 37.4 minutes per game. He notched four double-doubles (tied for the most in the Eastern Conference for the week), including one triple-double, and ranked second in the East in assists per game, sixth in points per game and was one of just two players in the East to average 30.0 or more points and 10.0 or more assists. Harden began the week by recording his fifth triple-double as a Net (tied for the second-most in franchise history) with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists in 35 minutes in a 136-125 victory at Sacramento on Feb. 15. He followed up that performance by tallying 38 points (his most as a Net), seven rebounds and 11 assists in 37 minutes on Feb. 16 at Phoenix, as Brooklyn erased a 24-point deficit, capped by Harden’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 31.4 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, to earn a 128-124 victory over the Suns. Harden totaled 23 points, five rebounds and 11 assists in 38 minutes in a 109-98 road win over the L.A. Lakers on Feb. 18, and rounded out the week by posting 37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in 41 minutes in a road victory over the L.A. Clippers on Feb. 21. The four straight wins propelled Brooklyn to a 5-0 record on its West Coast trip, representing the longest undefeated road trip in franchise history. Brooklyn is 13-5 in games Harden has appeared in this season and is currently a half-game back of Philadelphia for first place in the East.

Harden is one of 27 players in franchise history to earn Player of the Week honors and one of two this season, joining Kevin Durant, who captured the award on Jan. 18. Harden is the first Net to earn Player of the Week honors twice in the same season since Brook Lopez in the 2014-15 season.

In his 12th NBA season, Harden has appeared in 26 games this season, including 18 with Brooklyn. In those 18 games as a Net, he’s registered averages of 24.9 points on 50.2 percent shooting from the field, 41.0 percent shooting from 3-point range and 87.8 percent shooting from the free-throw line, 8.3 rebounds, a league-leading 11.4 assists and 1.2 steals in 38.4 minutes per contest.

The Trail Blazers, who have won six of their last seven games, went 2-1 on the week with Lillard posting averages of 36.3 points (43.4% FG, 40.4% 3-PT, 94.7% FT), 5.7 rebounds, 12.7 assists and 1.33 steals. He led the league in scoring for the week and ranked second in assists.

This marks the second time this season and 11th time in his career that Lillard has been named the NBA Western Conference Player of the Week. His 11 Player of the Week honors are the most in franchise history (Drexler – 10).

Lillard began the week with 31 points (12-25 FG, 5-14 3-PT, 2-3 FT), seven rebounds and 10 assists at Oklahoma City on February 16. Portland trailed the Thunder by five points with 4:48 remaining in the fourth quarter before closing the game on an 18-2 run that featured Lillard making four three-pointers and assisting on two others. On February 17 in New Orleans, Lillard scored 43 points (14-28 FG, 7-16 3-PT, 8-8 FT) while matching his career high of 16 assists. With 16.5 seconds remaining, Lillard completed a three-point play on a driving layup to deliver a 126-124 Trail Blazers victory. He closed the week with 35 points, six rebounds and 12 assists against Washington on February 20. Lillard has recorded at least 30 points, 10 assists and five three-pointers in each of his last four games, which ties his own mark for the longest such streak in NBA history.

For the season, Lillard is averaging 30.0 points (44.5% FG, 38.5% 3-PT, 93.5% FT), 4.5 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.07 steals. He leads the NBA in 30-point games (18), ranks third in scoring and is tied for eighth in assists.

James Harden is the Nets point guard, says Kyrie Irving

As soon as the Nets traded for James Harden, the obvious question was if he’d be more of a shooting guard or if Kyrie Irving would play that role. And even though Harden was a shooting guard early in his career, he’s clearly proven to be an assist-producing machine. The obvious guess was that he should be the Nets’ PG, with Irving playing off the ball a bit more as a pure scorer. Well, Irving agrees. Via the NY Post:

James Harden dissected Golden State with 16 assists Saturday night, the most by a player in Brooklyn Nets history. And as he continues to look like the most effective point guard in the league, the Nets’ former point guard has officially bestowed the position on him.

“I feel like he’s doing a great job of managing the point guard role,” Kyrie Irving said after the Nets’ 134-117 victory over the Warriors on Saturday night. “We established that maybe four days ago now. I just looked at him, and I said, ‘You’re the point guard, and I’m going to play shooting guard.’

“That was as simple as that. So he’s been taking control of the responsibilities and doing an incredible job. It just makes my job easier to just go out and play free and just make plays. It’s a luxury. I just want to continue it.”

The Nets offense is already excellent and should get even better as the season progresses, especially as roles get more clearly defined and chemistry further develops.

James Harden, Nikola Jokic named NBA Players of Week

The NBA announced today that Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić has been named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played from Monday, Jan. 25, through Sunday, Jan. 31.

The honor is Harden’s first as a Net and the 25th Player of the Week award of his career.

Harden led Brooklyn to a 3-1 week, including a 3-0 mark in games he appeared in. Harden recorded averages of 25.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 11.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks in 37.6 minutes per game, while shooting 56.8 percent from the field, 55.0 percent from 3-point range and 88.2 percent from the free-throw line. His assists per game were the highest in the league for the week. Harden opened the week by recording 20 points, four rebounds and eight assists in 34 minutes in a 98-85 victory over the Miami Heat at Barclays Center on Jan. 25. He followed up that performance by posting 31 points, eight rebounds, a Nets season-high 15 assists, two steals and one block in 46 minutes in a 132-128 overtime win at the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 27. In that game, Harden became the second player this season, and the first player in the Eastern Conference, to register 30 or more points and 15 or more assists in a game. He also became the first Nets player since Stephon Marbury on Jan. 20, 2000, versus Detroit to notch 30 or more points and 15 or more assists in a game. Harden rounded out his week by logging his third triple-double in eight games as a Net, registering 25 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in 32 minutes in a 147-125 victory on Jan. 29 at Oklahoma City. The 147 points for the Nets matched a franchise record for points scored in a regulation game. Harden sat out Brooklyn’s fourth and final game of the week last night at Washington with a left thigh contusion.

Harden is the 27th player in franchise history to earn Player of the Week honors and the second this season, joining Kevin Durant, who captured the award on Jan. 18. Harden and Durant are the first Nets teammates to win Player of the Week awards in the same season since Brook Lopez and Deron Williams in the 2014-15 campaign, and the second set of teammates to earn Player of the Week honors in the NBA this season, joining Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (Jan. 25) and Tobias Harris (Jan. 4).

In his 12th NBA season, Harden has appeared in 16 games this season, including eight with the Nets. In those eight games as a Net, he’s registered averages of 24.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 11.8 assists (first in the NBA) and 1.1 steals in 39.9 minutes per game, shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 40.0 percent from 3-point range and 87.7 percent from the free-throw line.

Jokić wins the award in consecutive weeks, becoming the first Nugget to win in back-to-back weeks since Carmelo Anthony in 2006 (11/27/06 & 12/4/06). He has now earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors eight times in his career, the second most in franchise history.

Jokić, 25, averaged 30.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.30 steals while shooting .623 from the field and .455 from three-point range. He helped lead the Nuggets to a 3-1 week, including a home win over the Utah Jazz on 1/31, snapping their 11-game winning streak and two road wins over the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat. The 3-1 week moved Denver’s record to 12-8, fourth best in the Western Conference.

Jokić started the week by registering 20 points (8-13 FG’s), 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals in a road victory over the Dallas Mavericks on 1/25. Denver then headed to Miami, where he put up a stat-line of 21 points, 11 rebounds and three assists in 40 minutes. Jokić followed that performance up with another massive game, finishing with 35 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and one steal at San Antonio on 1/29. He finished the week with arguably the best game of his career vs. Utah, tying a career-high with 47 points (17-26 FG’s), 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals in 37 minutes, becoming the first Nugget to ever post those numbers. He scored 22 points in the first quarter and 33 points in the first half, both career-highs in any single quarter or half.

Jokić leads the NBA in PER, is third in total assists, fifth in assists per game, sixth in rebounds per game and 12th in scoring, while averaging 26.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 1.75 steals in 35.8 minutes. He has also produced a double-double in all 20 games, becoming just the second player since 1976 to record a double-double in each of the first 20 games (Walton).

Nets will be without Kevin Durant against Cavs tonight

The Nets won’t be at full strength tonight. Via the Sun Sentinel:

The second appearance of the Brooklyn Nets’ Big Three was put on hold Friday until the Miami Heat’s Saturday visit to Barclays Center.

As they continue to manage Kevin Durant’s recovery from the torn Achilles that kept him out last season, the Nets announced Friday that Durant would not play in Friday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Instead, Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden are expected to play for only the second time as a trio when the Heat open their two-game set against the Nets at 8 p.m. Saturday, a set that concludes Monday at Barclays Center.

The Cavs handed the Nets a loss in double overtime on Wednesday.

With Durant out, this gives everyone a chance to focus on how Harden and Irving play alongside each other. Which is actually the biggest thing to pay attention to on the Nets roster right now.

Recent three-team James Harden trade amended into four-team trade to include Pacers

The Houston Rockets today announced that their three-team trade with Brooklyn and Cleveland has been amended into a four-team trade involving Indiana.

Click the link in this sentence to see the original three-team James Harden to Nets trade from a few days ago.

The Rockets traded guard James Harden to the Nets and a 2023 second round pick to the Pacers while acquiring guard Victor Oladipo (oh-lah-DEE-po) from Indiana, guard Danté Exum from the Cavaliers, and forward Rodions Kurucs (RO-dee-ahns KOO-rootz) from the Nets.

Houston also acquired the following draft assets:

– Three unprotected first round picks from Brooklyn in 2022, 2024, and 2026.

– The right to swap first round picks with Brooklyn in 2021, 2023, 2025, and 2027.

– Milwaukee’s first round pick in 2022 from Cleveland.

As part of the deal, the Pacers also received a future second round draft pick from Houston and a future second round draft pick from Cleveland.

“First and foremost, we want to thank Victor for what he gave to the Pacers through his play, his diligence in rehab coming back from a serious injury, and his community efforts,” said Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. “These decisions are obviously never easy and this one in particular was hard because of our relationship.

Continued Pritchard, “Caris is a high-quality person who will fit in with what we as an organization are doing, on and off the floor. He’s a versatile young talent who we think will be a great fit with the direction our team is taking. He can play multiple positions and affect the game at both ends of the floor.”

Originally drafted by the Pacers in the 2016 NBA Draft, LeVert was traded to the Brooklyn Nets on July 7, 2016. A 6-6, 205-pound guard, he spent part of five seasons with the Nets. He will wear jersey #22 with the Pacers.

Oladipo (6-4, 210) is in his eighth season and is a two-time All-Star. In 430 career games with 370 starts, he is averaging 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.7 steals. Over the past three seasons, he was the only player to have averaged at least 20.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.0 rpg, and 1.90 spg. In 2017-18, Oladipo was named Most Improved Player, All-NBA Third Team, and All-Defensive First Team.

Exum (6-5, 214) was the fifth overall pick by Utah in the 2014 NBA Draft. In 245 career games with 72 starts, the 25-year-old is averaging 5.7 points, 2.1 assists, and 1.8 rebounds in 18.6 minutes per game. Over the past three seasons, Exum averaged 14.6 ppg, 5.0 apg, and 4.2 rpg per 36 minutes played.

Kurucs (6-9, 230) was the 40th overall pick by Brooklyn in the 2018 NBA Draft. In 115 games with 55 starts, the 22-year-old is averaging 6.5 points, and 3.4 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game. Over his first two seasons, Kurucs averaged 13.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg, and 1.9 apg per 36 minutes played.

Three-team NBA trade sends James Harden to Nets, Caris LeVert to Rockets, Jarrett Allen to Cavs

UPDATE: This three-team trade was amended on January 16 to become a four-team trade that included Victor Oladipo and the Pacers.

The Brooklyn Nets have acquired six-time All-NBA First Team guard James Harden from the Houston Rockets as part of a three-team trade that includes the Cleveland Cavaliers.

As part of the trade, Brooklyn sends center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince to Cleveland, and guard Caris LeVert and forward Rodions Kurucs, as well as three first round draft picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) and four first round pick swaps (2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027) to Houston.

The Rockets also receive guard Dante Exum and a 2022 first round draft pick from Cleveland (via Milwaukee), and Brooklyn acquires a 2024 second round draft pick from the Cavaliers to complete the deal.

“Adding an All-NBA player such as James to our roster better positions our team to compete against the league’s best,” said Nets General Manager Sean Marks. “James is one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in our game, and we are thrilled to bring his special talents to Brooklyn. While we are excited to welcome James and his family to the Nets, we also want to thank the players who are departing. Caris, Jarrett, Rodions and Taurean were instrumental to the team’s success and have made an enormous impact on our organization. It has been a pleasure watching them grow both as players and as people and they will always be part of our Nets family. We wish each of them and their families all the best in the future.”

“On behalf of the entire Rockets organization and the City of Houston, I’d like to thank James Harden for an amazing eight-plus seasons in a Rockets uniform,” said Rockets owner Tilman J. Fertitta. “James has provided us with so many great memories as we’ve watched him grow from Sixth Man of the Year to a perennial All-Star and MVP. My family and I also want to thank James for his many off the court contributions, including generous charitable donations and multiple annual community events. We wish James the best of luck and will always be grateful for the memories.”

The league’s Most Valuable Player in 2018, Harden (6’5”, 220) has been named an All-Star in each of the last eight seasons (2013-20), which marks the second-longest active streak of All-Star appearances behind only LeBron James (16 consecutive appearances). He’s a three-time scoring champion (2018-20) and became the first player to win three straight scoring titles since Kevin Durant did so from 2010-12. Harden was also the league leader in assists in 2017, and he’s one of just six players in NBA history who have won both scoring and assist titles in their careers, joining James, Nate Archibald, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Russell Westbrook. Harden’s six All-NBA First Team selections tie with Durant for the second-most among active players, trailing only James’ NBA-record 13 first team honors. He ranks 36th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 21,160 career points (fourth among active players) and 54th on the league’s all-time assists list with 5,338 career assists (sixth among active players).

Harden has appeared in 841 games (628 starts) across 12 NBA seasons with Houston (2012-21) and Oklahoma City (2009-12), registering career averages of 25.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.6 steals in 34.3 minutes per game while shooting 44.3 percent from the field, 36.3 percent from 3-point range and 85.8 percent from the free-throw line. In the 2019-20 season, Harden recorded averages of 34.3 points on 44.4 percent shooting from the field, 35.5 percent shooting from distance and 86.5 percent shooting from the free-throw line with 6.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.8 steals in 36.5 minutes per game through 68 regular season games, earning All-NBA First Team honors for the fourth straight season and finishing third in MVP voting. Since the start of his NBA career, Harden has played in 841 of a possible 885 regular season games, and no player has appeared in more games since the start of the 2009-10 season than Harden.

The Compton, Calif., native has also never missed the playoffs in his NBA career, seeing action in 128 games (85 starts) in 11 postseason appearances and posting averages of 23.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.7 steals in 35.3 minutes per contest. He’s made four trips to the Western Conference Finals in his career, twice with the Rockets (2015 and 2018) and twice with the Thunder (2011 and 2012). Harden has also represented the United States in international competition, earning a gold medal with the U.S. men’s basketball team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Harden was originally selected with the third overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Prior to beginning his NBA career, Harden spent two years (2007-09) at Arizona State, earning All-Pac-10 First Team honors twice and garnering consensus first-team All-America honors, as well as the Pac-10 Player of the Year award, in his second and final collegiate season.

Allen saw action in 234 games (180 starts) in his four seasons (2017-21) with the Nets, posting averages of 10.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.4 blocks in 24.4 minutes per game. In the 2020-21 season, Allen has appeared in 12 games (five starts), registering averages of 11.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.6 blocks in 26.6 minutes per game. The Austin, Texas, native was named to the Mtn Dew Ice Rising Stars as part of 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte during his sophomore season. He is also the Nets’ all-time leader in field goal percentage (61.2 percent) and set the franchise’s single-season record for field goal percentage last season (64.9 percent). The 22-year-old was originally selected with the 22nd overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by Brooklyn.

LeVert appeared in 225 games (96 starts) in five seasons (2016-21) in Brooklyn, averaging 13.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.1 steals in 25.9 minutes per game. In 12 games (four starts) this season, the Columbus, Ohio, native has registered averages of 18.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.1 steals in 27.8 minutes per contest. The 26-year-old was originally selected with the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers and was traded to Brooklyn after the draft.

Kurucs saw action in 115 games (55 starts) in three seasons with the Nets, recording averages of 6.5 points and 3.4 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game. The Latvian native was originally selected with the 40th overall pick in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft by Brooklyn.

Prince appeared in 272 games (204 starts) across five NBA seasons with Brooklyn (2019-21) and Atlanta (2016-19), registering averages of 11.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 26.0 minutes per game. In 76 games (65 starts) in Brooklyn, Prince averaged 11.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 27.3 minutes per contest. In the 2020-21 season, the San Antonio, Texas, native has seen action in 12 games (four starts), averaging 8.1 points and 2.8 rebounds in 18.1 minutes per contest. The 26-year-old was originally acquired by Brooklyn via trade with the Atlanta Hawks on July 6, 2019.