Should James Harden still want to leave the Rockets?

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

Although James Harden has made it known that he wants to leave the Houston Rockets, their first game of the season should make him reconsider his request.

Although the Houston Rockets‘ offseason was marred with controversy, the biggest news of late has been regarding James Harden, who has been the only staple for the past eight years in Houston. Harden provided a list of teams that he wanted to be traded to, and his list has only gotten longer and longer, which has been further proof of his desire to leave the Space City.

Some of the teams that Harden listed are arguably worse than the Rockets, but that’s a topic for another day. There were questions regarding whether Harden would actually play a game for the Rockets, and especially after he violated the league’s COVID protocol, as many believed it was simply his way of trying to avoiding suiting up for the team.

But Harden and the Rockets took the court for their season opener on Saturday and took a fully healthy Portland Trail Blazers roster to overtime, and nearly won the game, were it not for a late game miscommunication between Harden and P.J. Tucker. What should have been encouraging for Harden is that the Rockets were missing three of their best players in John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Eric Gordon, as they were forced to miss the game due to coronavirus contact tracing.

Should Harden still want to leave the Houston Rockets?

Harden had 44 points on 75.8 percent true shooting in his first game with new Rockets coach Stephen Silas, while also dishing out 17 assists, which is tied for his career-best. Harden and new Rockets forward Christian Wood proved to be unstoppable, as the two players both dominated the Blazers, with Wood amassing 31 points on 65.2 percent true shooting, not to mention hauling in 13 rebounds and dishing out three assists.

With Harden and Wood combining for 75 points in their first game together, it’s worth wondering where exactly Harden will find a better match. Again, the Rockets were without three of their better players, including Wall, who Harden reportedly preferred playing with instead of Russell Westbrook.

Another thing to note is that any team that Harden gets dealt to will have to give up an immense amount of players and assets, which will make them much weaker, even with Harden on the roster. The best move for Harden, especially now, is to stay with the Rockets, at least for this season.

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Sure, it’s a small sample size, as the Rockets have only played one game, but the manner in which they stood toe to toe with the Blazers should have Harden reconsidering exactly how good the Rockets will be with a fully healthy roster.