Harden’s terrible assessment, who has been the face of the Rockets since 2012, comes just over a month after reporting late at training camp. Several reports at the time linked the Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers in trade talks with the three-time scoring champion, who has seen Houston’s roster and organization change dramatically around him.
When the Lakers eliminated the Rockets from the 2020 playoffs, Harden believed Houston was “a long way from the title fight”. Instead, the Rockets separated from trainer Mike D’Antoni, lost General Manager Daryl Morey and traded Russell Westbrook for the Washington Wizards. After these profound, abrupt changes, 31-year-old Harden had to adapt to first-time coach Stephen Silas, first-time general manager Rafael Stone, and a new partner on the back seat at John Wall.
There was little in the way of instant chemistry, since Harden’s efforts were sparse and his agreement with Wall has not yet developed. After eight direct playoff trips, the Rockets have the West’s second worst record at 3-6, and Harden scores 24.8 points per game, his lowest average since arriving in Houston.
Wall admitted Tuesday that his partnership with Harden still needs work in court.
“I think it was a little rocky,” said Wall. “I can’t lie about that. I don’t think it was the best it could be to be honest. That’s all I can really say “
Wall added that the missiles “shouldn’t jump off the cliff” after nine games and preached the importance of aligning yourself in the locker room.
“If the 1-15 guys are all on the same page, committed and know their role and what they want to do with it, which is to win, then you’re all fine,” he said. “But when you have certain people in the mix who don’t want to buy themselves in as one, it’s difficult to do something special or good as a basketball team.”
While Harden has yet to file a public trade application, he arrived late at training camp after partying without a mask in Atlanta and Las Vegas during the coronavirus pandemic. The NBA fined him $ 50,000 for violating the league’s health and safety protocols. Harden has earned $ 40.8 million this season and will be under contract for at least the 2021-22 season.
The Rockets, whose season opener was postponed after multiple players were out of the race due to positive or inconclusive coronavirus testing and contact tracing, have weathered this early turmoil. Hopes that Harden’s trade value could rise or his personal investment in the Rockets stabilized if he played well early in the season have not yet materialized.