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Nets GM not expecting sweeping changes despite Harden links

By Matt Kelley
James Harden

LA, November 21: With a truncated NBA offseason charging ahead and the official start of free agency just hours away, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks said he does not anticipate making any blockbuster moves - despite James Harden's reported interest in being traded from the Houston Rockets.

Marks is charged with building a championship-worthy supporting cast around superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who now appear healthy for the start of the NBA season on December 22.

"I sincerely mean it when I say I like this group that we have," Marks said. "The group has been together for a while now and we continue to add some pieces to it.

"Training camp is going to be competitive and it is going to be fun with the group we have, and if things change, things change."

The Nets have already made a three-team deal that brought in Landry Shamet and Bruce Brown, a trade that Marks said cements the organisation's "win-now" strategy.

While Marks understandably would not make any definitive comments about his plans for the roster, he seemed to make subtle references to the speculation involving Harden.

"I couldn't tell you if we're done yet or not," he told reporters. "But I don't see us changing five or six guys on the roster if that's what you mean."

While it is unknown what Brooklyn would be required to give up for a former MVP and three-time scoring champion like Harden, the likes of Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen have been mentioned frequently in rumours.

"It's the ugly part of the business, the strange part, the awkward part, and I think it needs to be discussed," Marks said. "I've talked to several guys about this, and just said, 'Look, they're just rumours'.

"Let's go out there and concentrate on what we have at hand, which is the group that's here. They understand this is a business and let's be prepared."

Another hurdle in any potential move to acquire Harden is that the Nets likely would be unable to retain sharpshooter Joe Harris, who scored a career-high 14.5 points per game last season.

"[Keeping Harris] is definitely a priority. We hope that we can continue to build with Joe," Marks said. "Joe is an intricate piece to the programme here, not only what he does and what everybody sees on the court but off the court as well.

"He's seen this programme develop and developed alongside this programme. It would certainly be great to have him continue this ride with us."

The price for acquiring the 31-year-old Harden would certainly be high, but Brooklyn have never had a player average 30.0 points per game across a season. Harden has done so on three occasions.

Durant has two such campaigns, too, with the pair accounting for seven of the previous 11 scoring titles - a prize never won by a Nets player.

A potential Durant-Irving-Harden trio is tantalising, yet it may ultimately be too short-sighted for Marks' taste.

"There is the other side of look: take advantage of what we have right now and take advantage of the moment. We obviously have a talented group that we can put on the floor as is," Marks said. "Until we know what deals are being offered or what we are offering, it would be difficult to say.

"We wouldn't want to mortgage our future, no."

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Story first published: Saturday, November 21, 2020, 3:00 [IST]
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