• Brian L. Barefield

Rockets Part Ways With James Harden

Photo Credit/Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets took over the entire sports world on Wednesday when they traded superstar shooting guard James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets in a four-team blockbuster deal.

The trade comes after a very brief postgame press conference from Harden the night before after the Rockets lost the second game of a brief homestand against the reigning NBA Champions Los Angeles Lakers where he criticized his teammates for their efforts.

“We're not even close, honestly, to that team, the obviously the defending champions, and to all the other elite teams out there,” said Harden. “I mean, you can tell the difference these last two games. I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”

The Rockets received Caris Lavert, Taurean Prince, and Jarrett Allen from the Brooklyn Nets and immediately sent Allen and Prince to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Dante Exum and a 2022 first-round pick via the Milwaukee Bucks and a future second-round pick from the Indiana Pacers along with guard Victor Oladipo who is having an All-Star season averaging 20.0 points per game this season.

Houston also secured three unprotected first-round picks in 2022, 2024, and 2026 and pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027 and Rodions Kurucs from Brooklyn.

Photo Credit/Houston Rockets

For Harden it will be another reunion with a former teammate when he joins superstar forward Kevin Durant in Brooklyn. The former NBA MVP played with Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook last season in Houston before Westbrook was traded in the offseason for John Wall. All three were teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2009-2012 before Harden was traded before the beginning of the 2013 NBA Season began.

Nets first year head coach Steve Nash who now has his own version of a “Big Three” with Harden, Durant, and Kyrie Irving, was asked about acquiring such a talent of Harden’s magnitude fitting in with the team.

"I think basketball is about playing together and being the best, you can be. So, no matter who you are, it's about finding connectivity and balance within a team and trying to be greater than the sum of your parts," Nash said in his pregame press conference on Wednesday.

Harden’s departure from the Rockets will now allow his former teammates to move on from all the media hysteria that comes with playing with last season’s leading scorer. Center Demarcus Cousins who is in his first year with Houston expressed his frustration with some of the things that had been going on behind the scenes amongst the players.

“His approach the training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court. The disrespect started way before. This isn’t something that all of a sudden happened last night,” said Cousins. “The other 14 guys in the locker room have done nothing to him. For us to be on the receiving end of disrespectful comments and antics, it’s completely unfair to the rest of the guys in the locker room.”

Harden will make his first appearance at the Toyota Center as a Brooklyn Nets player on March 3rd.

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