The Rockets and and Spurs squared off for the first game of TNT’s Thursday night doubleheader, so the “NBA on TNT” crew naturally did a thorough breakdown of Christian Wood’s strengths and weaknesses with accompanying film to support the analysis.
Just kidding. The main conversation between Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith was about the blockbuster James Harden trade.
The now-former Houston guard will join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — well, if Irving decides to play — in Brooklyn and attempt to win his first NBA title as part of the new “Big Three.” It wasn’t exactly a smooth exit for Harden, who flouted the league’s COVID-19 protocols by partying in multiple cities, showed up late for training camp and never expressed interest in connecting with teammates. (Just ask John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins about that.)
O’Neal called out Harden for saying he had done everything he could in Houston, noting Harden’s influence on personnel matters and failure to rise to the occasion in big games.
“When it comes time to show up, he ain’t show up,” O’Neal said. “So I know a lot of people in Houston [who are] glad he’s gone. So now, he’s got his little super team. He’s got to win [the championship] this year. If he doesn’t win this year, it’s a bust. Period.”
Barkley then voiced his concerns about Harden and Irving accepting smaller roles to help the team. He believes only Durant is capable of being more than a “me guy.”
“James Harden and Kyrie Irving have never shown me, like, ‘Nah, I just want to win. That’s the most important thing,'” Barkley said. “You got one guy, KD, he’s unselfish. The other two guys ain’t proved to me they care about [more than] their numbers. I don’t think they’re gonna make the sacrifice.”
Harden, Durant and Irving all rank in the top 20 on the all-time leaderboard for usage percentage, so it will be interesting to see how they handle being on the floor at the same time. There could be some growing pains in Brooklyn, but the Nets undoubtedly possess one of the most talented rosters in the NBA.
Oh, and if you’re wondering how the Rockets-Spurs game went, Houston won its first Harden-less contest by a final score of 109-105. Wood had 27 points and 15 rebounds.
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