After James Harden's final game with the Houston Rockets — a second consecutive blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers — any simmering tensions being harbored by his former teammates about his October trade demand and ensuing behavior finally boiled over.
According to a new report in The Athletic from Kelly Iko and Sam Amick, the Rockets were finally “fed up with the antics”, and a few notable names, including John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, voiced their displeasure with Harden over is lack of commitment to his teammates and first-year head coach Stephen Silas in a heated post-game locker-room discussion at the Toyota Center.
“During the meeting, which was led by Silas, and which sealed his decision to keep Harden out of subsequent team activities until a trade was complete, sources say multiple teammates expressed displeasure with Harden’s recent body language and effort,” Iko and Amick write. “Silas had asked if anyone wanted to share their unfiltered views, and the dialogue about their dysfunction began from there.”
Harden played MVP-caliber basketball in the first three games of the season, but his effort over his final four games for the Rockets was laughable, creating a toxic situation — on the court and off. Following a dismal performance against the Lakers, his teammates had finally had enough.
“John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins both spoke during the meeting, sources said, seeking a direct response on Harden’s level of commitment and preaching about the importance of accountability. For those who had been with the Rockets back when Westbrook preached the same message to anyone who would listen, these uncomfortable dynamics were all too familiar,” The Athletic noted.
After the meeting, Harden delivered his now-infamous press conference in which he said Houston wasn't good enough to contend and called the situation “crazy” and irreparable.
The following day, Cousins took his frustration public, criticizing Harden for the “disrespect” levied towards the organization.
Clearly, both parties are better off now that Harden got his wish and landed with the Brooklyn Nets.
If you're interested in more Houston-related tea, Amick and Iko's report provides a thorough accounting of the unraveling of the Rockets in the months since the bubble.