Houston, we finally have lift-off?
Could James Harden and his honey-bun infused toxic energy he was giving off been the blame for the Houston Rockets tumultuous start? It sure does seem that way. After Harden’s unceremonious exit from the franchise via a blockbuster four-team deal sent him to Brooklyn, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and recently acquired Victor Oladipo has been playing like a huge burden has been lifted from their shoulders.
The revigorated Houston Rockets have gone 5-3 since James Harden took his beard and dribbling ways to Flatbush and notched their fourth straight win after defeating Damian Lillard and his Portland Trail Blazers 104-101. Speaking with reporters, Rockets star point guard John Wall, who Harden wasn’t even slightly interested in playing with, didn’t bite his tongue and strongly hinted that Harden’s desire not to be there was part of the reason the team was struggling.
Per Houston Chronicle’s Rockets beat writer, Jonathan Feigen :
“The team wasn’t where we wanted to be, and we had people that didn’t want to be here. So it’s kind of hard to play through that. Once the trade happened, we got the team that we wanted and guys that wanted to be here.”
Before the trade, the Houston Rockets, while not the favorites to win it all, we’re still considered one of the top teams in the NBA’s Western Conference and were optimistic after acquiring Wall and Cousins. Plus, the hiring of a new head coach, Stephen Silas, was supposed to give the team a new identity. But, those hopes quickly disappeared after Harden’s behavior showed he didn’t want to play for the Rockets anymore.
Harden did whatever he could in hopes Houston would trade him, like breaking the league’s health and safety protocols to party with rappers like Lil Baby instead of showing up to training camp. When he finally did decide to show, he looked out of shape and uninterested, but he still played. The energy with the team was off, and it showed with the team starting with a 3-6 record and finally Harden calling the situation between himself and the team “unfixable.”
After his comments, DeMarcus Cousins, who always keeps it real, didn’t sugarcoat anything calling out Harden for his “disrespect” and not even trying to make it work. Before last night’s comments, Wall didn’t blame Harden directly, but winning will certainly change that.
Both Rockets and Nets are starting to pick up steam and are playing well. Best believe we got March 3 circled on calendars when the two teams faceoff in Houston.
Photo: Carmen Mandato / Getty