Will James Harden regret the way he left the Rockets?

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) /

With James Harden having forced his hand from the Houston Rockets, leading to a messy split, will he regret his behavior during the waning moments?

To say that James Harden‘s departure from the Houston Rockets was unceremonious would be a major understatement, as Harden’s antics were uncharacteristic of sorts. With Harden under contract through 2021-22, he had very little leverage as it pertains to exchanging his Rockets uniform for another one.

What made matters worse for Harden is that the Rockets didn’t actually want to trade him and were in no rush to get a deal completed. Harden began to act out, as he tried to force his hand.

Harden decided against showing up to Rockets camp, as he opted to attend rapper Lil’ Baby’s birthday party in Atlanta, followed by more partying in Las Vegas. The decision was one that made life difficult for new Rockets coach Stephen Silas, who faced the tall order of getting control of the locker room while also trying to install his offense on the court.

Harden reportedly told Silas that he would come in for a private workout at the conclusion of his party-filled weekend, which ultimately never happened. Harden later attended another event at a Houston club, which was in violation of the league’s COVID protocol, and reportedly left the Rockets in disappointment.

Harden’s behavior drew the ire of ESPN Houston radio host Joel Blank, who didn’t hold back when he was speaking about Harden’s departure on NBC Houston’s Sports Sunday.

“I just think that when you look at the way that he handled everything, with a franchise that you have to credit, every time he said jump, they said how high.

You want Chris Paul, you want Russell Westbrook, you want Kevin McHale gone. You want all these different moves made and they did everything to appease you.

And the first chance you got when it wasn’t sunshine and rainbows, you’re not only headed for the hills, but you give the city of Houston a swift kick on your way out. I don’t think fans forget that.

I think eventually he’ll get his number retired, it may take another ownership group. But I think from a fanbase perspective, he will never, ever be looked at favorably, and that goes across a long history of Houston sports.

There’s no doubt about it, the fans will not welcome him back with a standing ovation.”

Will James Harden regret the way he left the Houston Rockets?

There’s alot to unpack here, and a quick peruse of Rockets Twitter reveals a fanbase that’s torn on how Harden left the Rockets. On one hand, there are those who have decided to focus on the many accomplishments he had throughout his nine years in Houston, and those who are in that camp have decided to tune in to Harden’s Brooklyn Nets tenure, while being hopeful that he wins a championship alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

There are also those who were put off by Harden’s antics and have decided not to associate Harden with the Rockets anymore, which is the faction that Blank describes.

Regardless of which side of the fence you may stand on, it can’t be debated that Harden handled things poorly on his way out the door, which put an unfortunate end to a Rockets career that saw Harden excel and break many of the Rockets’ franchise records, while also ascending to become one of the best players in the league.

Harden and the Nets have played well through his first two games, as he’s averaging 33 points, 13 assists, and nine rebounds, while operating as the team’s point guard and primary facilitator. Harden and the Nets face a tall order as it pertains to winning a title this season, as the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers got better in the offseason and are in the second year of the Anthony Davis-LeBron James pairing.

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone stated that Harden and the Houston Rockets’ front office are on good terms and that the two had a discussion after he was dealt to Brooklyn, which many believe has opened the door for a return between Harden and the Rockets in the future.

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Perhaps if that happens, Harden will have a chance to make up for his missteps on his way out the door.