Although James Harden has drawn sympathy due to his standoff with the Houston Rockets, the reality is that the Rockets are going about this the right way.
After eight successful seasons with the Houston Rockets, three-time scoring champion James Harden has decided that he’s ready to part ways the franchise, reportedly. Harden has identified the Brooklyn Nets as his preferred destination, with the belief that a trio of Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant could dethrone the Los Angeles Lakers and give Harden his long-awaited title.
But there’s one major hurdle in Harden’s way: he’s under contract for two more years, meaning the Rockets hold the power here. But Harden deserves better from the Rockets, right? After all, look at what he’s done for that franchise!
This is not to debate that Harden has emerged into one of the league’s best players, but that happened because the Rockets took a chance on a player that many believed had disappeared in the 2012 NBA Finals. On top of that, Harden was a Sixth Man with the Oklahoma City Thunder, as many believe he simply wasn’t good enough to start in OKC.
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In addition, the Thunder didn’t deem him valuable and worthy enough to even give him a max contract, which the Rockets happily did. Harden became a superstar in Houston and the Rockets made sure to give him everything he wanted, including even control over roster personnel.
The Rockets brought in Dwight Howard, which was a failed experiment, in part because of the lack of maturity and leadership by both future Hall of Famers, and later brought in Chris Paul, who nearly helped lead the Rockets to their third franchise title (depending on who you ask). Harden wanted the Rockets to deal Paul for his longtime childhood friend Russell Westbrook, which was a move that raised eyebrows around the league, due to the amount of draft capital that the Rockets parted with to acquire Westbrook.
After just one injury-riddled season for the 2016-17 MVP, Harden reportedly decided that he wanted a new backcourt mate, as reports surfaced that he preferred John Wall over Westbrook, leading the Rockets to make a deal involving the two players. Harden was also involved in the interview process for current coach Stephen Silas, giving him control over the head coaching situation as well.
Harden has also been paid handsomely, as the Rockets inked him to a supermax contract, and his rise in Houston has led to him being one of the highest paid athletes in the world, as he made $47.8 million in 2020, which ranked 17th-best, regardless of sport. Not bad for someone who couldn’t even receive a max contract despite proving his value and his worth, might you say?
The reality is that the Rockets don’t owe Harden more than what they’ve given him, which is an opportunity to become a mega-star, while essentially becoming a pseudo-GM. Not to mention being able to complete the rags-to-riches turnaround to provide a better life for him and his family.
The Rockets actually deserve better from Harden, as he’s bailing on a long-term commitment that he was once interested in. In addition, Harden has been toying with the franchise, as he stated that he would join the franchise on the opening night of training camp, only to bail on his word, not to mention failing to join the team in the subsequent days that followed, providing no timetable this time.
Harden doesn’t deserve any sympathy, as he’s been taken care of time and time again, whether his biggest fans and his camp realize it or not. Harden has held more power than essentially every player in the NBA, not named LeBron James, and considering what all has been given to him, it’s not asking for too much for him to be a professional. in light of his unhappiness.