What Westbrook’s exit means for James Harden future with the Rockets

Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
James Harden of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Harden has every reason to keep cooking on the court

A concern that has been voiced frequently is that if Harden is still in Houston he’ll play but his heart won’t be in it. These types of arguments are silly and paint professional athletes as being the pettiest of people.

Players’ ability to make money is directly affected by their performance on the court. To sign a super-max contract a player has to have reached certain benchmarks, such as winning an MVP in recent seasons and/or being on an All-NBA team.

As it stands right now, Harden is in line for a super-max contract but if he lollygags around for a season he could be putting that in jeopardy. There’s also the reality that great players are great because they love to compete.

It’d be hard to imagine that James Harden has reached the heights he has and his only concern has been money. Will Harden give it 100-percent every night for the Rockets? No, but no one actually does that.

The NBA season is a marathon and veteran players know how to pace themselves to make sure they have enough in the tank to win a championship, which is the greatest reason Harden, if still in Houston, won’t just show up to collect his checks.

At 31-years-old, James Harden doesn’t have many elite seasons to chase a championship left. It’s why he wants out of Houston but it’s also why if he stays he’ll give it his all. The Rockets might not be the betting favorite for a championship but they currently have a roster that can make some noise and they now have a few tradable assets to try and bolster their roster at mid-season.

James Harden has been clowned for his lackadaisical defense over the years but all great offensive players conserve their energy on that side of the court. If Harden suits up he’ll average over 30 points a game. You can call that half-hearted for a player who has averaged 33.7 points per game over the past three seasons but that’s just being unreasonable.

Next: Did Harden want Westbrook out?