James Harden‘s exit from Houston was ugly. He demanded a trade, showed up late to training camp after violating league COVID-19 protocols (earning him a fine), was out of shape, his play was below his lofty standards, and he said the Rockets were not good enough. Eventually, Harden got his way and was traded to Brooklyn in a blockbuster four-team deal.
Harden admits it was ugly but also said he would not change a thing.
In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Harden apologized for how it went down — but that is very different from regretting it, and Harden clearly doesn’t regret a thing.
“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,” Harden said. “And credit to Houston, they didn’t necessarily have to trade me to Brooklyn. They could have traded me anywhere, but those are some stand-up guys over there. And it ended up the right way, but just didn’t like how that month or two played out.”
Harden clearly doesn’t regret a thing. He got what he wanted (just like he always did in Houston).
Since landing in Houston he has taken on more of a facilitator role, clearing the way for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to get buckets. It’s worked, the Brooklyn offense has been the best in the league when the three stars are on the court (a 122.2 offensive rating, and that jumps to 132 if the other two guys on the court are Joe Harris and Jeff Green). The problem is their defense has been bottom five in the league in that same stretch, leading to entertaining shootout games but not a style that seems suited for a Finals run.
Maybe that changes, but how the Houston big three will handle the playoffs’ pressure and adversity will be interesting.