On Tuesday night, James Harden said that he didn’t feel as if the Rockets were “good enough” to compete with the NBA’s best teams, suggesting that there wasn’t enough talent on the roster and that he didn’t think the situation could be fixed.
Those comments may essentially represent his farewell to Houston, as they appear to have accelerated the Rockets’ efforts to trade him. They also didn’t sit well with some of the teammates he was throwing under the bus.
Addressing the situation today, DeMarcus Cousins pointedly stated that he came to Houston to play with John Wall, and expressed his displeasure with Harden’s public critique of the Rockets and the way he has handled himself over the last month or two.
“He can feel however he wants to about the organization or whatever his current situation is, but the other 14 guys in the locker room have done nothing to him,” Cousins said, per James Herbert of CBS Sports (Twitter link). “So for us to be on the receiving end of some of the disrespectful comments and antics, it’s completely unfair to us.”
While Cousins was referring in part to Harden’s press conference on Tuesday, he made it clear that it’s not as if everyone was on the same page up until then.
“The disrespect started way before any interview,” Cousins said (Twitter link via Herbert). “Just the approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court. I mean the disrespect started way before.”
While other Rockets players who have addressed the Harden situation since Tuesday night weren’t quite as blunt as Cousins, Christian Wood acknowledged that the situation has “been going on since training camp” and said Harden’s comments hurt team chemistry (Twitter links via Herbert).
Wall, who spoke to reporters shortly after Harden did on Tuesday, expressed his frustration with his backcourt mate’s unwillingness to buy in.
“When the one through 15 guys are all on the same page… you all will be fine,” Wall said (video link via Bleacher Report). “But when you have certain guys in the mix that don’t want to buy in all as one, it’s going to be hard do anything special or do anything good as a basketball team.
“… It’s only been nine games. Like, come on, man, you’re gonna jump off the cliff off of nine games? There’s a lot of basketball still to be played.”
Head coach Stephen Silas was diplomatic about the situation, telling the media today that Harden “was nothing but professional” to him personally and calling the saga a “crazy NBA situation” (Twitter links via Herbert). With Harden away from the team, Silas said he’s focused on the other players on Houston’s roster.
“The reaction (to Tuesday’s comments) was less about what James said and more about the group, and how the group would feel about what he said,” Silas said, noting that he believes the Rockets are better than their 3-6 record suggests. “That was my main concern because that’s hard to hear. Especially when you don’t believe it and you know it not to be true.”
While it seemed for a time that the Rockets might drag out their Harden trade talks until the March deadline, it now appears likely that a deal will be completed this week.