James Harden Is Desperate for Rockets to Break Up With Him

Harden is really, really letting himself go, and it is affecting his play on the court

James Harden Is Desperate for Rockets to Break Up With Him
James Harden in action against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Getty Images

James Harden’s bid to get the Houston Rockets to end their relationship and trade him to another NBA team for pennies on the dollar is starting to get ugly.

Harden has become disinterested on the court, is saying negative things off of it and, in a classic sign of someone who is no longer invested in a relationship, is really, really letting himself go to the point where he’s being mocked by NBA broadcasters.

Harden’s apparent weight gain seems to be affecting him on the court as he was held to just 16 points on 31.3 percent shooting during a 117-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.

The blowout loss marks the fourth straight game the three-time scoring champ has been held to 20 points or fewer, his longest such streak since 2012 — his last season coming off the bench in Oklahoma City for the Thunder.

Unfortunately for the Rockets, Harden’s offensive outage appears to be contagious.

Harden’s individual drop in scoring, at least partially, can be explained by him playing differently on the court by shying away from the isolation ball that has made him a star (and requires effort).

Based on what Harden said after Houston’s Tuesday loss dropped the team to 3-6 (only a half-game ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves for the worst record in the Western Conference), it doesn’t sound like the Rockets should be expecting the 2018 MVP to start putting in more effort this season — unless it is for a new team.

“We’re just not good enough,” Harden said. “Chemistry, talent-wise, everything. It was clear these last few games from the beginning of the game. [The Lakers] were just aggressive. A veteran team, obviously, a championship team. One of the best teams we have in this league. I love this city. I’ve literally done everything that I can. This situation, it’s crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed. Thanks.”

Harden, who has three years and $133 million with a player option for the final season remaining on his contract, is not even bothering to pretend he still wants to play for Houston. But, the Rockets and new general manager Rafael Stone are determined to remain patient until their asking price for the 31-year-old star is met, according to ESPN.

Perhaps Stone and the team should consider rekindling talks with the Brooklyn Nets, a team (along with Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Miami, Portland and Boston) that was on Harden’s list of preferred destinations during the offseason. The Nets have a star guard of their own, Kyrie Irving, they might be willing to part with.

Even if it isn’t for Irving, the Rockets must do something as things with Harden appear to have reached the point of no return and, even though a hunger strike is clearly not a possibility, a holdout could be on the way.

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