James Harden’s relationship with the Houston Rockets is seemingly growing more precarious by the day. On Thursday, reports emerged that the former league MVP would be willing to accept a trade to the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers or Miami Heat. One way or another – he just wants out of Texas.
How did all parties involved get to this point? According to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, one very specific moment led to Harden being pushed over the edge.
“All-Star James Harden wanted out of Houston as soon as the Rockets hired Stephen Silas as coach,” he reported.
“Early on in the Rockets’ coaching search, management asked for Harden’s input, and Silas, the son of former NBA player and coach Paul Silas, was not among Harden’s top choices.”
Harden was said to be a big proponent of then-Los Angeles Clippers assistant, now-head coach Ty Lue. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, meanwhile, is said to have been a fan of ESPN broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy. Silas was initially viewed as a middle-ground selection, but it appears that was not in fact the case.
LeBron delivered a simple message to the man who thought it was OK to punch a small child. https://t.co/4TKETg3FKh
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 10, 2020
Harden is obviously an incredible talent. Last year he averaged 34.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 7.5 assists per outing while shooting 44 percent from the field, 35.5 percent from three and 86.5 percent from the free throw line. He has been the face of the Rockets for the last decade, and losing him would be an immeasurable failure.
That said – he is also a very expensive player to have on the roster. Harden is owed $41.3 million in 2020-21, $44.3 million in 2021-22 and has a player-option worth $47.4 million in 2022-23. That is a lot of money to pay someone who is flippantly disrespecting your organization by shirking training camp duties and publicly leaking trade demands.
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 8, 2020
One way or another, a resolution will need to be reached. Either the Rockets will need to trade Harden, or they’ll need to figure out how to make amends. But the situation, as it currently stands, is unsustainable.
How this entire matter ultimately pan out? Time will tell.