Kittles on Nets’ Big Three: “Great players always figure it out”

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will have to adjust to James Harden, but Kerry Kittles is confident that the Nets will make it work

Zach Gelb
January 13, 2021 - 10:25 pm
James Harden Rockets

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It’s official. The Brooklyn Nets have their Big Three.

The Nets acquired James Harden from Houston on Wednesday as part of a four-team blockbuster, which also involved the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers.

Harden joins Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, giving the Nets (7-6) perhaps the most explosive trio in basketball. 

But can they make it work?

“It’s going to be difficult for guys to make an adjustment, for other teammates who need the ball in their hands,” former Nets standout Kerry Kittles said on The Zach Gelb Show. “They have other guys on their team like Caris LeVert – [Spencer] Dinwiddie, he’s out right now – who are ball-dominant guys. They need to score off the dribble, and James Harden, as we know, he loves to score off the dribble.”

Harden, 31, has led the league in scoring three seasons in a row. But ultimately, he wants what Durant and Irving have: championship rings.

“It will definitely be an adjustment period – similar to when LeBron was down playing with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade,” Kittles said. “But I think overall, they have a lot of respect for each other. They know that James Harden, as challenging as his style of play may be as a teammate, they understand that he can control and dominate games in big moments and show up on the biggest stage and excel. And so, I think they’ll figure it out. Great players always figure it out.”

The Nets paid handsomely for Harden’s services, sending three unprotected first-round draft picks and four pick swaps to Houston.

The trade has drawn comparisons to the Nets’ failed 2013 deal for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry.

“With this case, I’m not as concerned with giving up those first-round picks because these guys are in their prime,” Kittles said. “If you retain Kevin Durant and you retain James Harden in a couple years when their deals are up, you won’t need those picks. Those guys are still phenomenal players. They’re in their prime.”

Kittles, who played for the Nets from 1996 to 2004, also shared his thoughts on Irving, who has missed five straight games for reasons that are, well, not entirely clear.

“I would love to see him put out a statement just letting folks know what’s going on with him,” Kittles said. “Is it a mental health issue? We don’t know. Is it a family matter? It would be nice for his teammates [and] to take a little bit of slack off of Steve Nash so he doesn’t have to keep answering questions and Kevin Durant coming into practice and after games answering questions about Kyrie’s whereabouts. 

“So I would say put out a statement; that’s No. 1,” Kittles continued. “And No. 2, just figure out in the future if you’re going to need time off, what’s the best way of doing it so that everyone is not compromised by his absence.”

Either way, the Nets have plenty of offensive firepower – with or without Irving.

“When Kevin Durant goes to the bench, now you have Harden, who’s pretty much unstoppable out there,” Kittles said. “No one can guard him. So you have pretty much the two best scorers in the entire NBA on one team. That’s incredible.”