Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley have questioned whether it will work between James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving following the former’s trade to the Brooklyn Nets.
Shaquille O’Neal believes James Harden’s trade to the Brooklyn Nets will only be deemed a success if the team can go on to win an NBA Championship with him.
The Nets parted ways with youth and depth in order to land Harden, with center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince heading to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the four-team deal, while forward Rodions Kurucs and guard Caris LeVert were sent to the Houston Rockets. LeVert is expected to be traded on by the Rockets to the Indiana Pacers for All-Star Victor Oladipo.
Harden’s arrival in Brooklyn sees him team up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, sparking questions over what the on-court chemistry will be like between three famously ball-dominant scorers.
“I think if they don’t win a championship it’s a bust,” said O’Neal on Inside the NBA. “Kyrie knows what it takes, KD of course knows what it takes, James Harden hasn’t been there yet. Two of those guys have to sacrifice, will they sacrifice?
“I’m not used to seeing Kyrie and James moving off the ball. When Miami first put their Big 3 together, it was ‘D Wade, you go and everybody else just sit and wait’ and ‘LeBron, you go and everybody else just sit and wait’.
“Is there going to be any movement without the ball? Whose team is it? Who is going to say ‘you know what, fourth quarter, three seconds, who is going to take the last shot?’. We all know those three have the ability to take the last shot but there can only be one chief.”
Harden eventually succeeded in forcing his way out of Houston this week after making no secret of his desire to move on throughout the offseason and early weeks of the new campaign. He was averaging 24.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 10.4 assists through eight games for the Rockets this season.
Durant has meanwhile led the way for Brooklyn in his first season since sitting out 2019-20 while recovering from an Achilles injury. He is averaging a team-high 29.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists.
Irving, however, has not featured since January 5 and has missed five games due to ‘personal reasons’. In that time he was captured on video celebrating a family birthday without wearing a mask.
“There are two reasons why I think they’re going to struggle,” added Charles Barkley. “James Harden and Kyrie have never showed me they would be selfless. Kevin Durant has proven he can be selfless when he went and played with the Warriors.
“Those other guys, neither one have showed me that like ‘I just want to win, because Kevin is the guy, Kevin is the guy and each one of us is going to get a lot less shots, we’re going to have to do other things to help the team win’.
“Also one big thing I think people miss is I don’t like their big guys. I’m a big Jarrett Allen fan, I would have never traded him. I think they’re going to struggle in the paint and on the defensive board.”