James Harden broke his silence during Tuesday's night post-game interview following the Rockets' 117-100 loss to the Lakers. The disgruntled superstar described his situation with the organization as beyond repair and made it clear he wants out of Houston.
This is the closest Harden has come to publicizing his trade demand, and it came after a second straight blowout loss to the defending champions. The Rockets have lost four out of five games since The Beard returned to the lineup, and Harden's play hasn't been up to par with what he's been showcasing over the years of being an MVP candidate.
Yesterday's game was no different. In 30 minutes of action, Harden had 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting from the floor and 1-for-6 from behind the line. That was the fourth consecutive game Harden scored 20 or fewer points, which is the longest such stretch since 2011-12, his final season with the OKC Thunder, according to ESPN.
We're not even close, honestly, to that team -- obviously the defending champions -- and all the other elite teams out there. I mean, you can tell the difference in these last two games. We're just not good enough -- chemistry, talent-wise, just everything. And it was clear these last two games.
James Harden, ESPN
The Rockets knew what they were getting into after deciding to get uncomfortable with James Harden before a team meets the asking price. It was safe to assume an unhappy superstar would cause some locker room issues; the only question is, to what extent. Unfortunately for the Rockets, he may have already taken it too far. Harden doesn't want to buy in, and his personal agendas are bringing down a team. In such an environment, doing anything good on a collective level is impossible.
He's talking to his own opinion. I can't know what he thinks about the team or what he feels like we are. I know how much hard work these guys put in ... to try to get better every day. I know how much work I put into it to get back and compete at a high level.
John Wall, ESPN
The Rockets took a risk, and it seems like it hasn't paid off. They've had active/ongoing trade discussions with "more than a half dozen teams" and have been communicating with Harden about those options. The only problem is, the James Harden trade landscape has changed. Now they may be forced to take a package that is 80 cents on the dollar for one of the best players in the association unless the Nets decide to end the Kyrie Irving saga and include him in the deal.
Either way, one thing is clear -- after a great 8-year-run with the Rockets, the wall has been hit. It's time to trade James Harden.