To say that the divorce between James Harden and the Houston Rockets in 2021 was ugly would be an understatement.
Between the way he demanded a trade, how he behaved when the team didn’t immediately deal him and all the controversy surrounding his rationale – it was a mess.
All of that is a big reason why this week’s report about Harden longing for a return to Houston was so surprising.
Given how poorly things ended between Harden and the Rockets, many have speculated that the latter wouldn’t want him back.
As it turns out, there is one big reason why that may not be true.
“The idea would seemingly hold little appeal to Houston given the unseemly manner in which Harden forced his exit via trade to Brooklyn in January 2021, his advancing age (33) and the presence of Jalen Green as the Rockets’ standout young building block,” NBA insider Marc Stein reported.
“Houston’s rebuild, however, is taking shape s-l-o-w-l-y and Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta is widely presumed to be antsy to see his team reclaim a measure of relevance.
“You’ll note that no one from Clutch City has exactly rushed to rule it out.”
Relevance is certainly important. It helps not only from a financial standpoint in terms of revenue, but also when it comes to recruiting other NBA stars.
That said, the risk-reward here doesn’t quite make sense. Is a 33-year-old, clearly-declining Harden really worth mortgaging the future over? The man has been on three teams in as many years for a reason.
This past summer Harden seemingly said and did all the right things. He was staying in with his girl and not partying. He was working on his body. And so on and so forth.
Yet here we are once again – with Harden willfully entertaining the idea of changing teams while his current squad underwhelms.
Can’t blame Steph, but also the photos speak for themselves. https://t.co/mHRFglPAqA
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 27, 2022
Harden is an all-time great player, but he is also one of the biggest prima donnas of his generation. Some guys are worth the headaches that accompany them. He used to be one of them.
But not anymore.
The Rockets are on the path to a rebuild – they’d be wise not to mess that up with any rash moves.
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