It was during a team meeting on January 12th after their lackluster start that the Houston Rockets finally « drew the line » with star James Harden. At the meeting, which was chaired by Stephen Silas, head coach of the first year, several teammates voiced displeasure with Harden’s recent, According to sources, The Athletic, Harden, an eight-time All-Star who is still aiming for his first NBA championship, is still speaking the same evening with the media. He said the missiles were « just not good enough » adding that he was doing everything he could and the situation was something he didn’t think could be fixed. The following day, he was traded for the Brooklyn Nets in a four-team blockbuster deal – a deal Harden knew about when speaking to the media Tuesday night, according to sources. For eight seasons, Harden became one of the NBA’s top players, but the missiles never made it to their ultimate destination. For a detailed account of how and why the Harden Era ended in Houston, read the full story of Kelly Iko and Sam Amick in the « Go Deeper » section below.
Kelly Iko, Rockets Beat Writer: The freshness bias will have a huge impact on remembering Harden’s time in Houston for Rockets and NBA fans alike, but I think his legacy is intact. For eight seasons, everything for a franchise in desperate need of a star to hold on to, Harden developed his own game from a quality reserve to the league’s MVP.
Could he have done things differently? For sure. Could he have had better playoff performances? Sure. But of what was on his plate and how he consistently delivered, Harden’s jersey should one day hang on the rafters of the Toyota Center.
Iko: The situation has taken an unfortunate turn and it happened pretty quickly. Silas was put in the middle of a situation he shouldn’t have been and dealt with calmly. It was obvious they would never get to a moment when Harden wanted to rethink the season and play, regardless of what the Rockets had hoped for in the past. As with most trades with franchise cornerstones, it just took its course and the solution was the best possible outcome for everyone involved.
Iko: With this in mind, Silas now has the opportunity to build with John Wall and Victor Oladipo, knowing that he has a group fully behind him and the kind of basketball that he wants to produce. It’s been a crazy start with COVID-19 logs, injuries and this whole saga, but trading allows the team to step into a new era with optimism and flexibility. General Manager Rafael Stone has made it his mission to put together a squad worth digging deep into the playoffs. Your immediate goal, however, should be to assess what you have right now and take it from there.
We knew a Harden deal was coming, but the final stages of this superstar saga were even more dramatic than expected: His open press conference, at which he thought the situation was untenable. DeMarcus Cousins’ strong words in response the next day. Silas navigates these tricky waters with serenity.
In the end, Harden got what he wanted because that’s today’s NBA.
Harden has said and done the right things in the eyes of his teammates since arriving in Brooklyn. While his exit in Houston was ugly, he admitted that he wished he could handle certain parts of it better. Now a web, he seems like a different person than the one who sulked in Houston, but it’s early. Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving know what this is about. It’s up to them to make it work.
After more drama with the former MVP, the Rockets unload Harden and pick up Victor Oladipo in retail with four teams.
Sources tell NBA Insider Shams Charania that there was early tension between Harden and his teammates. Could this be another Jimmy Butler situation?
Two defeats to the Lakers have apparently marginalized angry star James Harden and the Rockets.
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