I was not a fan of the conceptthat the Rockets needed to trade James Harden. The team still had him under contract and there was intrigue and some hope as how the new pieces John Wall, Christian Wood and DeMarcus Cousins. However once Harden “jumped off the cliff”in that now infamous postgame presser , he painted the Rockets in a corner. The only way the team could avoid having their season completely torpedoed was to ,as expeditiously as possible , sever their ties with the disgruntled star.
As we know Harden moved to the Nets to form what is now the league’s most notable triumverant. Taking aside the fact this acquisition took a hatchet to one of their strengths, that being their depth, the new and even more pressing concern was how would these three elite players productively co-exist. My concern was never with kd in this situation; his game has proven to be malleable variety of systems and allows him share the court with other high calibre players without stifling them; that was on display with Russ and Harden in OKC and must recently in Golden State. The area of
concern is with the other two vertices in this triangle of potential greatness- James Harden and Kyrie Irving, whose similar dribble-heavy styles would seem to clash with one another and a recipe for disaster that could derail the team and cause KD to pull the rest of his hair out. However it’s not a forgone conclusion that these three will be incongruous on the court. Head coach Steve Nash came so he should have at least a modicum of understanding of how to implement an egalitarian offense. Additionally on Nash’s staff is one Michael Andrew D’Antoni, who coached Harden in Houston and certainly he will provide valuable insight on how to effectively implement the Beard. BBallBreakdown did an excellent analysis of how these three could successfully co-exist with a team framework
Shaquille O’Neal was very critical of Harden post-trade questioning Harden’s comments Tuesday night in which he said “he did everything he could.”
Frankly speaking the, Big Aristotle was spot on with his assessment, but I am going to take it a step further. The simple fact of the matter is Harden quit on this team and it started before he ever took the court. Coming in purposefully out of shape was the first warning sign. Once he was able to report to the team after clearing protocols, he was with the team physically but his mind was somewhere else and it showed in his lackluster and uninspired play on the court. The comments of John Wall and Boogie Cousins are not sour grapes over an elite teammate moving on but comes from a place of justified rancor towards someone who not only did not want to be there but was cavalier with letting that be known. The post game presser from Harden was merely the public manifestation of those desires. Ironically his new teammate, Kyrie could have taught him how to go about properly requesting a trade. Say what you will about Irving’s eccentricities, he went to Cavaliers management like a man and made his intentions known. He kept it out of the media( how it may or may not have gotten out is another story) which is why it was so shocking when the news broke.
To the Rockets credit they got Harden out quickly and didn’t let it languish as the Pelicans did with the Anthony Davis saga.
As Harden could make his debut as soon as Saturday, and apparently Kyrie is on track to return to team activities the same day, we will get our first look at the new-look Nets sooner rather than later.