James Harden's exit from Houston was among the messier trade sagas in recent NBA history. The former Rockets star requested a trade during the offseason, and when he didn't get one, he showed up to training camp late in protest. When he did take the floor, his numbers plummetted in his final games in Houston, and after a Tuesday blowout loss against the Los Angeles Lakers, Harden claimed that the Rockets were "just not good enough."
"Chemistry, talent-wise, everything," Harden elaborated to reporters after the loss. "It's clear. I love this city. I've literally done everything I can. It's crazy. I don't think it can be fixed."
Harden got his wish on Wednesday as he was dealt to his original destination of choice, the Brooklyn Nets, and when he was introduced by the team, he argued that he was not trying to be disrespectful as he pushed for a deal.
"I've been there for a very long time," Harden told reporters Friday. "I have been through all the ups and downs, you know, with that organization. And I wasn't disrespectful toward anyone. I just made a comment that the team as a whole wasn't good enough to compete for a title. And at this stage in my career, where I am now, that's what I would love.
"And so, I wasn't trying to be disrespectful to anybody -- especially not to the organization. And like I said, I am excited to be here in Brooklyn and, you know, excited for a new start."
"Obviously, it's disrespectful, but everybody has a right to their opinion," Cousins said via ESPN. "We feel a certain type of way about some of his actions. This is the nasty part of the business that kind of gets swept under the rug. You deal with some of these things. When guys are in positions of being franchise players or whatever the case may be, it's usually sometimes a nasty breakup."
While Harden may not view his actions in that exact light, he did ultimately express regret at the way things ended with the Rockets.
"I regret it because I'm not the type of guy to -- I don't need the attention," Harden said. "The ultimate goal was to get to somewhere where I can compete, and here I am in Brooklyn."
In the end, Harden did get the deal he wanted, but the way in which he got it will wind up tainting the Houston tenure that came before it. It will take Rockets fans time to forgive one of their greatest players for the way his time with them ended, but ultimately, if that was the price to make Harden a Net, it's one that he was comfortable paying.