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Brooklyn Nets’ James Harden reportedly frustrated with current situation, interested in testing free agency

The Philadelphia 76ers have held out hope that keeping Ben Simmons until the offseason will open the door to a James Harden trade. While a deal won’t happen during the season, the door could now be open with Harden reportedly unhappy in Brooklyn.

Harden, a nine-time NBA All-Star, demanded a trade in November 2020 to leave the Houston Rockets. After reporting to training camp late and showing up overweight, Houston eventually granted his request and sent him to the Nets on Jan. 14, 2021.

The 32-year-old guard is making $44.31 million this season and holds a $47.366 million player option for the 2022-’23 season. While the Nets would love to extend him, keeping Harden and Kevin Durant together, that no longer seems to be Harden’s priority.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer detailed Harden’s issues with the Nets and an increasing interest to explore other opportunities in free agency this offseason.

The Nets have struggled since the Kevin Durant injury, entering Tuesday with a 5-5 record in their last 10 games. But even with the Nets still near the top of the Eastern Conference, Harden reportedly has several issues leading him to believe he needs to test free agency.

James Harden unhappy in Brooklyn, doesn’t like New York taxes

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Brooklyn Nets
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Harden wanted to play in Brooklyn because it offered him the best opportunity to win an NBA championship. But since stepping foot in New York, the former NBA MVP doesn’t seem pleased with his current residence.

“According to multiple sources, Harden has not enjoyed living in Brooklyn, compared to his days as a central Houston magnate. Outside of the change in climate, the chasm between state taxes in New York versus Texas is quite obvious as well. 

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer on James Harden’s issues with Brooklyn

The 32-year-old does have a point. Housing costs are 283% higher in Brooklyn than in Houston, per NerdWallet.com, and the overall cost of living is dramatically higher. Additionally, Texas doesn’t have income tax and New York is one of only six states with a millionaire tax.

But if Harden is dreaming about a move to Philadelphia, he might not be any happier. It’s still much more costly to live in Philadelphia than Houston and Pennsylvania taxes income. As for the climate, New York’s average temperature in the winter (44-36 degrees) is around the same range as Philadelphia.

But that doesn’t seem to be Harden’s only source of frustration, with mounting issues involving the organization.

James Harden frustrated about Kyrie Irving, Steve Nash

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at New Orleans Pelicans
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

After not allowing Kyrie Irving to play in road games for the first quarter of the season, the Brooklyn Nets welcomed him back on Jan. 5. But due to New York City’s COVID-19 guidelines, he still isn’t allowed to enter the Barclays Center due to his unvaccinated status. That also appears to be one of Harden’s issues.

Harden has been vocal to Nets figures and close contacts alike about his frustrations regarding Kyrie Irving’s part-time playing status. A recent injury to Kevin Durant has exacerbated the issue, leaving Harden to shoulder the majority of the offensive burden during Brooklyn home games. 

B/R’s Jake Fischer on James Harden’s frustration with part-time player Kyrie Irving

Between the Durant injury and Irving’s unavailability for road games, Harden is being thrust back into the role he played in Houston. While it’s allowing him to compile gaudy statistics, it’s also not the workload he wanted when he came to Brooklyn.

If that all wasn’t enough, there are also reportedly small issues between Harden and Steve Nash. Brooklyn’s coach uses fluid rotations, giving more minutes to players who are hot during the game. The decision to use that approach, rather than deploying set rotations in key situations, has reportedly “disappointed” Harden.

Harden’s mood might improve as the year rolls on when Durant returns and the weather slowly warms up. But if he is this dissatisfied with the situation, the 76ers will be ready to strike this summer.