James Harden’s breakup with the Houston Rockets was messy, to say the least. However, the three-time NBA scoring champion ultimately got what he wanted, as he is now on the Brooklyn Nets with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. So, what does James Harden have to say about his split with the Rockets and his trade to the Nets now? He recently gave a pretty blunt message.
James Harden had a messy breakup with the Houston Rockets
James Harden first went to the Houston Rockets via trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder. He then had a ton of success in Houston, as he led the NBA in points per game three times and scored as many as 36.1 points per game in 2018-19.
Harden’s play ultimately helped him win the 2017-18 NBA MVP award. It also helped the Rockets reach the Western Conference Finals in 2014-15 and 2017-18. However, despite nearly making the NBA Finals in those years, Harden and the Rockets consistently fell short in the playoffs. They couldn’t get past the Western Conference Finals once with him and only got past the conference semis twice in eight seasons.
The lack of postseason success led to reports coming out this past offseason of James Harden telling the Rockets’ front office that he wanted a trade to the Brooklyn Nets. They didn’t give him what he wanted by the beginning of the season, though, and Harden wasn’t present once practice began.
He did, however, ultimately show up, but he struggled in the eight games he played in for the Rockets this season. Harden shot what would have been tied for a career-worst 34.7% from 3-point range. He also only scored 24.8 points in those games, which would have been his fewest since playing for the Thunder.
The drama then got to its worst point after a loss to the LA Lakers.
“We’re just not good enough,” he said, according to USA Today’s Rockets Wire. “Obviously chemistry, talent-wise, just… everything. It was clear. … I love this city. I’ve literally done everything I can. This situation is crazy. It’s something that, I don’t think it can be fixed.”
These comments seemingly helped push the trade.
James Harden ultimately got his trade to the Brooklyn Nets
The Rockets then traded Harden to the Nets the very next day. With him now playing alongside two other scorers in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, his scoring numbers have not gotten back up to where they have been in the past, but he has played much better.
In 13 games with the Nets, Harden is averaging 23.3 points per game, 8.2 rebounds, and 11.3 assists per game. He is also leading the league in assists per game on the season. Additionally, Harden is shooting 47.9% from the field with Brooklyn, which would be the second-best mark of his career, and he is making 36% of his 3-pointers.
While the Nets have struggled, at times, to find their chemistry so far, they are still third in the Eastern Conference with a 15-12 record.
So, how does Harden feel about the trade now?
He sent a blunt message about his breakup with the Houston Rockets
James Harden recently spoke with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, and she asked him how he feels about how everything went down before he got traded.
“I don’t like it at all because that’s not who I am,” Harden said to Nichols. “The drama, the extra, whatever you wanna call it, the negativity, for me, I don’t really like negative energy. It’s draining. So, I don’t like how it necessarily happened. I feel like it could have happened a lot smoother, a lot easier, but it is what it is.”
So, would he have done anything differently?
“No, because I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful; I wasn’t trying to be selfish,” he said. “I feel like the front office knew where I stood and what I wanted. I apologize for how it went down, but I guess I had to do what I had to do in order to get to where I wanted to go. Credit to Houston; they didn’t necessarily have to trade me to Brooklyn. They could have traded me anywhere, but those are some standup guys over there. It ended up the right way. I just didn’t like how that month or two played out.”
Now that it’s all said and done, James Harden ultimately got what he wanted from the Rockets. He is playing with some other superstar players on the Nets. The pressure is on those three to win a championship this season now, though. We’ll see if they can do it.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference