There are two things James Harden can’t shake right now: a left hamstring injury that knocked him out of his third game in a row on Tuesday, and the chatter that he is going to get traded before Thursday’s deadline.
One of those things will be cleared up by Thursday. Coach Steve Nash reiterated on Tuesday that not only does he expect Harden to stay put, but he also doesn’t think the Nets will make any moves.
"Honestly, I think we’ll be exactly the same," Nash said. "I think the chances of trades or deals happening before the deadline are so slim, especially for our group."
The other thing – the hamstring -- could linger because the Nets don’t want Harden to rush back, even though they went into Tuesday’s home game against Boston on an eight-game losing streak.
There was a report on Tuesday morning that said Harden participated in the morning shootaround. But Nash threw cold water on that idea.
"He didn’t really go through shootaround," Nash said. "He was here supporting his teammates. I think he's still doing his strengthening. He'll do core work. But I think taking the wheels off and exploding is still something that he wants to cover. When he shoots, he looks like James, but as far as changing ends and accelerating and all that stuff, I think it's conservative right now to continue to regain that strength. There's a deficit right now. Just to be safe and to look long term, there’s no point in us risking a big patch of the season for him to be back where he was last year [injured] for long stretches."
Snarky Twitter commenters would say it’s nice of the Nets to keep Harden healthy for the Philadelphia 76ers, who are rumored to be interested in acquiring him before the deadline in a deal that would involve holdout guard Ben Simmons.
Even though Nash has said more than once that he doesn’t expect Harden to get traded, the reports will not cease that it could happen. Some of the reports are from respected NBA insiders.
Others . . .
There was a frenzy in Philly on Tuesday when 76ers coach Doc Rivers’ daughter Callie Rivers – who is married to 76ers guard Seth Curry – posted a tweet that simply said, "It just doesn’t make sense."
Curry is one of the players who reports say could go to the Nets in a proposed package for Harden.
But Callie Rivers later clarified that her tweet was about the HBO series "Euphoria," not a change of address for her husband.
The Nets went into Tuesday’s game without the injured Harden, Kevin Durant, Nic Claxton, LaMarcus Aldridge and Joe Harris. Unvaccinated Kyrie Irving was ineligible to play because of New York City’s COVID-19 rules.
Nash isn’t looking forward to the day when he gets new players via trade. He’s looking forward to the day when he has his whole roster together, if that day comes.
"My mind and attention is on this group," he said. "Putting this thing together as guys become healthy again and trying to build it for the stretch run so that we can continue to improve, but also find that cohesion before we hit the playoffs given that we have limited time now. By the time Kevin comes back, James gets healthy . . . right now, whatever it is, five or six of our top rotation guys are not in the lineup tonight. They'll trickle back into the lineup and it'll give us a certain amount of time, hopefully more, but it could be a short window to gain that cohesion and we went through that last year as well. So hopefully we can find that common experience and cohesion with whatever period we have left with everybody – knock on wood -- and we can be ready to go when the playoffs arrive."