James Harden’s departure from Houston is likely a welcomed change for several Rockets players who spoke out publicly this week against his criticism of the team, which opened the door to a multiteam trade deal that landed him with the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.
The trade came after Harden was reportedly asked to sit out of Wednesday’s team practice. He told reporters hours earlier, "We’re just not good enough."
"We're not even close, honestly, to, obviously, the defending champions (Los Angeles Lakers) and all the other elite teams out there," Harden said. "I mean, you can tell the difference in these last two games."
"We're just not good enough. Chemistry, talent-wise, just everything," he continued. "I love this city. I've literally done everything that I can. The situation, it's crazy. It’s something that I don't think can be fixed. Thanks."
Those comments did not sit well with teammate DeMarcus Cousins, who called out Harden for his behavior even before the season started.
"Obviously, it's disrespectful, but everybody has a right to their opinion," Cousins said before the trade, via ESPN. "We feel a certain type of way about some of his actions."
"Just the approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court, the disrespect started way before [Tuesday night]," he continued. "This isn't something that all of the sudden happened last night, but with that being said, like I said, this is the nasty part of the business. So it is what it."
Cousins wasn’t alone in thinking this.
John Wall, who was traded to the Rockets from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Russell Westbrook and a future first-round draft pick in an attempt to pacify Harden, criticized Harden's mindset and the impact it had on the team.
"End of the day, a lot of guys here wanna compete at a high level," Wall said after Tuesday’s loss. "When the 1-15 guys all on the same page and they commit, they know their role, they know what they wanna do, they know what they wanna get out of this that’s to win, you all will be fine. But when you have certain guys in the mix that don’t wanna buy in all as one, it’s going to be hard to do anything good as a basketball team."
He continued: "We can’t dwell down on it because it’s only been nine games. Come on, man, you want to jump off the cliff off of nine games? There’s a lot of basketball still to be played."