Nets GM: Superstars will sacrifice to make Harden trade work

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Troy Taormina

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) passes the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Houston. (Troy Taormina/Pool Photo via AP)

NEW YORK – As the Nets were closing in on the deal for James Harden, general manager Sean Marks wanted to know if his two superstars really wanted to share the stage — not to mention the ball — with a third.

Marks said Thursday that both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving told him what he needed to hear, so he pulled the trigger on the blockbuster deal that landed the NBA's three-time scoring champion in Brooklyn.

“They understand what’s at stake here,” Marks said. “Everybody’s raised their hands and said, ‘Look, we’re in. We know what we’re shooting for’ and that includes James, the new player. He knows what’s at stake.”

The Nets acquired Harden from Houston in a multiteam deal that became official Thursday, paying a huge price by sending Caris LeVert and Rodions Kurucs to Houston, along with 2022, 2024 and 2026 first-round picks and the right to swap first-round picks in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027.

The Nets also sent center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince to Cleveland.

Brooklyn now has undeniable firepower, with Durant a four-time scoring champion who looks as good as ever in his return from Achilles tendon surgery and Irving pouring in nearly as many points before taking a leave of absence from the team for personal reasons.

But only the commitment from the three players will allow the Nets to fully utilize it and Marks is confident he secured that from his own players and from Harden.

“I think he’s looking for a fresh start and I think these guys are going to have to sacrifice without a doubt,” Marks said. “But they’re also going to push us. They’re going to push our franchise and hopefully take us to where we need to go.”