NBA

Eric Gordon and the Houston Rockets are Looking Forward to Life Without James Harden

It has been a hectic start to the NBA season for the Houston Rockets. They have been hit by the coronavirus, forcing one of their games to be postponed. They’ve also had to deal with disgruntled superstar James Harden. Harden wanted to be traded since the offseason and has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. That has caused a distraction to the Rockets, which has affected their on-court play.

Houston finally dealt Harden on Wednesday, sending him to the Brooklyn Nets. With Harden gone, the Rockets can finally put the situation behind him and move forward with their season. Eric Gordon provided some insight into how the Rockets feel now that their former franchise cornerstone is out.

James Harden became a distraction for the Houston Rockets

James Harden initially asked to be traded from the Rockets in the summer. With Daryl Morey and Mike D’Antoni out, it was time for him to move on after eight seasons. He still was under contract for two more years with Houston. Both sides were fine with things getting uncomfortable while a trade came to fruition.

Things did get uncomfortable as Harden’s actions began to impact the team. He missed the beginning of Rockets training camp because he was out partying in Las Vegas and Atlanta. He also violated COVID-19 protocols by appearing at a private event without a mask. When Harden eventually joined the Rockets, he was overweight and out of shape. 

There were more distractions from Harden. He got into arguments with teammates, once throwing a ball at one of his teammate’s face. He didn’t seem interested in gelling with his teammates and often disrespected them. At least that is what Demarcus Cousins said about Harden’s interactions with teammates. Things hit the fan when Harden candidly ripped Houston after their loss against the Lakers Tuesday. He said the team is “not good enough” and said the situation in Houston “can’t be fixed.”

Harden’s comments Tuesday is what forced the Rockets to get him out of Houston quickly. They were able to get a haul in return for Harden, setting up their franchise for the future. With the James Harden saga over, the Rockets can now move forward with their season. 

Eric Gordon says Rockets can “move forward”

RELATED: Is James Harden Sabotaging His Trade Request with His Recent Actions?

The Houston Rockets aren’t having the best start to the season. They could blame the Harden drama for their sluggish start, but that is only one person. Veteran guard Eric Gordon believes that Harden’s departure finally gives Houston a sense of closure. 

“I think it just gives us a chance to [have] a real direction. Everyone else on the team can hone in and not worry about his [Harden’s] situation. We can just move forward,” Gordon said, per ESPN. Gordon spent the last five seasons as Harden’s teammate. He didn’t see Harden’s comments about the team as disrespectful; he saw it as Harden trying to force his way out.

“I don’t think he really meant it as far as disrespecting us. That’s just for me. I think he just wanted a different situation. He’s kind of shown that, and he also said it. I don’t think he really meant to really disrespect the players, but he wanted his way out.” said Gordon.

Being one of Harden’s longest-tenured teammates, Gordon’s comments are interesting. He knows Harden better than most, so he should know what his true intentions were. That doesn’t make Harden’s comments any less harsh. Gordon is just happy the drama is over so the Rockets can focus on basketball. 

What’s next for the Houston Rockets?

The Rockets can stay out of the headlines for a while because the James Harden drama is over. They can focus on turning around their season, which isn’t off to the best start. They currently have a 3-6 record, which has them in the Western Conference’s 14th spot. Despite their record, they have some talent on their squad.

John Wall has been impressive in his first season with Houston, putting up 18.6 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game. The Rockets brought Wall to Houston to convince Harden to stay, but it didn’t work. Christian Wood is having a breakout year, averaging over 20 points per game. Gordon is the team’s fourth-leading scorer with 14.3 points per game.

Now Houston can really see how their team looks. They couldn’t get a clear picture with Harden’s disinterest on the court. Their backcourt is a talented one with Wall and Victor Oladipo, who was acquired as part of the Harden trade. They have a young rising star in Christian Wood and Demarcus Cousins down low. It’s not a championship team, but it is a competitive one.

Eric Gordon and the Houston Rockets seem ready to move forward after the James Harden debacle. The season is still early, and the Rockets have time to turn around their season. Things should get better for them now that they are free of any distractions on their team.

Stats courtesy of ESPN