Rockets center DeMarcus Cousins described James Harden‘s comments and behavior during his final days in Houston as “disrespectful.” However, speaking today to reporters for the first time since being traded to the Nets, Harden disagreed with that assessment.
“I wasn’t disrespectful to anyone,” Harden said on Friday, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “Those guys, they just got there, to Houston. I’ve been there a very long time. I’ve been through all the ups and downs with that organization. And I wasn’t disrespectful to anyone.
“I just made a comment that the team as a whole wasn’t good enough to compete for a title. The stage of my career, where I am now, that’s what I would love. So, I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to anybody, especially the organization. I’m excited to be here in Brooklyn, excited for a new start.”
Harden did express some regrets about the way his tenure in Houston ended, noting that there were “some things I feel like were out of my character,” but didn’t identify any specific comments or actions that he regretted, Feigen notes.
Harden’s desire to be traded by the Rockets was reported all the way back in November and dominated headlines for nearly two months, but NBA rules prevented him from publicly discussing his trade request until now — doing so would have resulted in a fine. Asked about it today, the former MVP explained that he became motivated to move on following the Rockets’ playoff loss to the Lakers over the summer.
“After the bubble, after that loss, I wanted to re-evaluate my career, the team, where the organization was going,” Harden said, according to Feigen. “You look from top to bottom, the general manager (Daryl Morey) leaving, (head coach) Mike D’Antoni leaving, to reevaluating our personnel and seeing if we had enough to compete with the best teams in this league, as time went on, as free agency and things like that started to go on, I felt like we didn’t have a chance.”
Having decided that he wanted out of Houston, Harden confirmed today that the Nets were atop his wish list, though he said that list featured a handful of other teams as well. The 31-year-old praised the Rockets for working with him to find an appropriate deal and making sure he ended up in a favorable landing spot.
“They worked with me, as bad as it might’ve looked from the outside, and they made sure I ended up here, so much credit to them and (I’m) very, very appreciative,” Harden said, per Adam Zagoria of Forbes.
Harden issued a farewell to Rockets fans with a post on Instagram earlier today, writing that the organization and the city of Houston “has given me everything I could ask for and more.”