On Wednesday, January 13th after weeks of franchise superstar James Harden doing his very best to alienate himself from the Houston Rockets, they traded him to the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster.
This trade is sure to shift the balance of power in the East and throughout the NBA to an extent. Harden will now team up with Kevin Durant his former teammate in Oklahoma City and Kyrie Irving (if he ever returns from the Bermuda Triangle)
But I ask the question why did he really wanna be traded?
Was it to win a title or was it because he didn’t wanna be held accountable for his actions, under a new head coach and GM?
For years the Rockets did whatever the mercurial and sometimes nomadic Harden wanted. They traded for other superstars like Chris Paul, whom he had a falling out with as Paul held him accountable for his shortcomings. . Paul was traded following the 2018-2019 season after spending two seasons in “HTown” and coming one bad half away from dethroning the KD-Steph led Warriors juggernaut and reaching the NBA Finals.
Then, his relationship with former Russell Westbrook ended ugly after the Bubble season. The team decided not to keep defenseless minded head coach Mike D’Antoni and they also parted ways with GM Daryl Morey. They were the two biggest enablers in Harden’s journey to Most Valuable Diva.
The Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta hired a Black coach in Stephen Silas and Black GM in Raphael Stone, in an attempt to exemplify a diverse approach. My gripe with Harden is this, why wait until the franchise hires BLACK leaders to do this?
Do you know how much harder and longer they had to work for this opportunity that so many get without putting in the actual work.?
Harden didn’t have much to say about either being hired and then he decided to show up to training camp late on purpose as he was looking to be moved. He even turned down the biggest contract in league history to stand his ground without ever giving Silas and Stone an opportunity to show if they could build something around him.
The team still has PJ Tucker, Eric Gordon and even added John Wall (via trade for Westbrook), DeMarcus Cousins Christian Wood in free agency.
That didn’t matter to Harden, who still wanted out. After showing up miserably out of shape, rumors of a trade to either Brooklyn or Philly started circulating in the air.
It was only a matter of time before he was traded.
The Sixers bowed out and decided to keep their unit with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons intact, hoping that new head coach Doc Rivers and Harden’s former GM and enabler Daryl Morey (President of Basketball Operations) could help elevate the talent they have to another level.
But the Nets with new head coach Steve Nash and his lead assistant the aforementioned Mike D’Antoni decided to go ahead with the deal. So now, Harden gets to play for his former coach who as an assistant will still wield great power as rookie coach Steve Nash’s experienced eyes in BK.
Never once was Harden chastised for his shot selection, terrible defense, lack of effort or complete no-shows in numerous crucial playoff series. He was permitted to do whatever he wanted in Houston under Morey and MDT and when things weren’t to his liking changes were made.
There’s no doubting his talent and very unique skill set, but it was never his fault. He was never forced to look himself in the mirror and improve. With his enablers gone and a new regime intact, maybe Harden didn’t want to face the challenge of being challenged.
On his way out of Houston, he just proved this by saying the “Rockets aren’t good enough,” but he loves the city. He added: “I have done everything that I can. I mean this situation is crazy. I don’t think it’s something that can be fixed.”
That was a total “ME” guy quote while throwing his current and former teammates under the bus in Houston. The NBA is a superstar-driven league and it’s no doubt that Harden is one of those few superstar players who moves the meter and gets what he wants as evidenced by what happened on Wednesday.
Going to Brooklyn with KD and Kyrie will be interesting if “Uncle Drew” does decide to return. With those three, you’ll have three of the top 8 fourth quarter isolation players in the entire NBA. Not to mention Harden and Irving being ball-dominant the other three quarters as well.
We know this is KD’s team and he’s great on or off the ball. The deciding factor in how far this team will go depends on how Harden and Kyrie co-exist.
In the end, it takes talent and chemistry to win it all and they have plenty of talent for sure, but will the chemistry work well enough to dethrone the Lakers in the NBA Finals?
I think they have enough to win the East barring a major injury. I bet Steve Nash didn’t expect to be dealt these cards in his very first coaching job, but it’s his job to manage the egos and temperament of three future Hall Of Famers.
P.S. It remains to be seen how Harden’s new restaurant scheduled to open in “HTown” on January 22nd does now that he’s forced his way out of the city.