NBA Trade Rumors: Rockets Could Swap James Harden For Kyrie Irving, ‘Hoops Habit’ Suggests

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks to drive past Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets during the first half of their game at Barclays Center on November 01, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough New York City.
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The Brooklyn Nets are currently emerging as a likely trade destination for Houston Rockets superstar James Harden. Armed with a plethora of precious trade assets, the Nets are in a strong position to engage in a blockbuster deal with the Rockets this offseason. In most trade rumors linking “The Beard” to the Nets, Brooklyn is expected to use young and promising talents like Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen and future first-round picks as trade chips.

However, Duncan Smith of Fansided’s Hoops Habit has a different idea in mind regarding how the Rockets-Nets blockbuster deal would push through this fall. Smith suggested that the Nets could bring Harden to Brooklyn by simply sending Kyrie Irving to Houston.

“No matter what, there will be trades coming out of Brooklyn. Dinwiddie has been rumored to be a likely piece in any deal, but it’s hard to add up a package involving him, and say Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen and bring back a superstar like James Harden. That equation may change if you swap Kyrie Irving for one of those pieces. Whether he would go back to the Rockets or be moved elsewhere in a three-team deal, trading Irving makes sense both from a salary-matching perspective and because the trio of Harden, Durant and Irving simply may have a hard time meshing.”

James Harden (L) of the USA celebrates scoring with teammate Kyrie Irving (R) during the 2014 FIBA World Basketball Championship final match between USA and Serbia at Palacio de los Deportes on September 14, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.
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It may be hard to imagine the Nets parting ways with Irving only a year after he agreed to join them and help them recruit Kevin Durant in the 2019 free agency. However, crazy things do happen in the NBA, especially during the offseason. If the Nets don’t think that the two ball-dominant guards could mesh well in their backcourt, a Harden-Irving swap might end up being a possibility this fall.

Statistics-wise, Harden is a much better player than Irving. Last season, he finished with a league-best 34.3 points, together with 6.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 1.8 steals. He also shot 44.4 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN. Harden is three years older than Irving, but unlike him, he hasn’t missed a considerable amount of time due to injury.

Also, while the 2020-21 season would be the first year that Irving and Durant would play together, Harden and KD already teamed up on the Oklahoma City Thunder, where they reached the NBA Finals and got defeated by LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Meanwhile, swapping Harden for Irving would also make sense for the Rockets, especially if they want to remain a competitive team in the loaded Western Conference. Instead of undergoing a full-scale rebuild, they could immediately start building their next title-contending team with Irving as the centerpiece.