The Houston Rockets traded James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets this past week in a multi-team deal featuring numerous players and draft picks.
Prior to getting dealt, Harden burned a lot of bridges on his way out of Houston. The day before he was finally moved, Harden gave a memorable speech where he essentially said that the Rockets weren’t good enough to compete for a title and he wanted out.
This rubbed DeMarcus Cousins the wrong way, and he promptly called Harden out for it.
“I don’t feel betrayed at all. My interest was with playing with John Wall, to be brutally honest.”
DeMarcus Cousins on if he feels betrayed by James Harden. pic.twitter.com/yRlyOFw0In
— ESPN (@espn) January 13, 2021
“The disrespect started way before any interview,” Cousins said regarding Harden’s rant. “The other 14 guys [in] the locker room have done nothing to him. We’ve only showed up to work like everyone else. It’s completely unfair to the rest of the guys in the locker room.”
On Friday, during his introductory press conference with the Nets, Harden fired back at Cousins.
“I wasn’t disrespectful to anyone,” he said. “Those guys just got to Houston. I’ve been there a very long time. I just made a comment that the team as a whole wasn’t good enough to compete for a title.”
Harden’s agitation with his old organization was apparent dating back to the preseason, when he originally requested a trade.
Casuals won’t get this but real NBA fans will recognize him immediately. https://t.co/6jNDadPphR
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 15, 2021
Through his first eight games of the season, Harden has averaged 24.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 10.4 assists while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from beyond the arc. While those numbers aren’t bad per se, they also aren’t the sort of stats that have come to be expected from the former league MVP. This prompted many to wonder whether he had purposely quit on the Rockets.
Even if Harden wasn’t actively not trying, the mere impression that it could be the case obviously didn’t endear him to many within the organization.
Yikes. It’s a wrap for Jackie MacMullan.https://t.co/lIFTuBiJtc
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 14, 2021
When it was all said and done, Brooklyn gave up Caris LaVert, Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, three unprotected first-round draft picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026, as well as pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027 to land Harden. If he ends up playing like he has in seasons past, it will prove to be a worthwhile gamble.
If not – it could go down as one of the biggest blunders in franchise history.