Rick Barry: Harden to Brooklyn would be “the Elm Street nightmare”

Hall of Famer Rick Barry does not believe the Brooklyn Nets should trade for James Harden

Zach Gelb
November 23, 2020 - 9:35 am
James Harden Rockets

USA Today Images


With James Harden reportedly wanting to form a Big Three with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, many NBA analysts have pondered whether the Nets should make that move. Some former players love the idea; others, not so much.

Hall of Famer Rick Barry is firmly in the latter category.

“That might be the Elm Street nightmare,” Rick Barry said on The Zach Gelb Show. “Seriously, can you honestly see those three guys playing together and being happy with the way Harden dominates the ball? More than likely, the coach wouldn’t let him. I don’t think Steve Nash would allow him to do that.”

Nash, a two-time NBA MVP, has never coached at any level. Barry, though, thinks he will be just fine.

“Yeah, because he’s so fricking smart. He knows the game,” Barry said. “It’s just a matter of how he’s going to relate to the players. He’s bringing in some other people that he trusts.”

That includes his former coach, Mike D’Antoni, who also coached Harden in Houston. Still, Barry has serious doubts about Harden in Brooklyn.

“There’s no fit there,” he said. “You can’t bring him in there and expect that team to be a great basketball team unless he was reborn again. He’s even going backward where his coach who turned him loose and everything is going to be there. If that happens, it would be really interesting to see how it played out – and the only way it would play out is that Harden has to just totally change the way he plays the game in order for it to work.”

As many NBA teams have shown over the years, beating a Big Three is no easy task. But the Big Three has to play as one.

“It’s tough to defend that, but you have to play differently,” Barry said. “You can’t play the domination game. Even KD is not going to be happy with that because he came from Golden State where he had so much more fun and so many easier shots. . . .  If those come in there and they don’t [share the ball], how happy is KD going to be?”

Zach Gelb believes that Harden and Durant would be fine. After all, they were teammates in Oklahoma City and reached the NBA Finals together. Harden and Irving, however, could be a different story. 

But if both guards could sacrifice to make it work? The sky’s the limit.

“That’s what has to happen,” Barry said. “Without that happening, it becomes a nightmare. But if they decide, ‘We can make this happen, let’s do this,’ it could be very interesting because you’ve got three incredibly explosive offensive talents just like the Warriors had three guys. You can’t defend a team that has three guys [who] can do what those guys do. And then you know they’re going to play an up-tempo game and they’re going to be able to run. If they make a commitment to defense and do a nice job of adding some people to the equation, to the roster, they could be a formidable team without question.”