There should be no looking back at this pont for James Harden. He’s flourishing in his new role with his new team, leading the league in scoring through three games with the Rockets at an average of over 35 points per contest.
But Oklahoma City was a special situation; there was a core of young players there who built a legitimate contender that went to the Finals just a season ago, and team chemistry seemed to be valued there perhaps more than other places.
That last part might be why Harden is still talking about how his departure came about, because although it’s business, there might have been some hurt feelings along the way.
The latest details, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
Even with the rapid embrace of life as the franchise player for the Houston Rockets, something still troubles All-Star guard James Harden about the way his departure unfolded with the Oklahoma City Thunder: Why didn’t officials give him longer than an hour to consider a final four-year, $54 million offer before trading him?
“After everything we established – everything we had done – you give me an hour?” Harden told Yahoo! Sports on Monday afternoon. “This was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I wanted to go home and pray about it. It hurt me. It hurt.”
That may seem harsh, but the Thunder were just trying to shift the negotiating leverage in the team’s favor by shortening Harden’s window to accept.
OKC likely knew Harden wasn’t budging off of his max deal demand, so this was one last desperate attempt to try to get him to make a quick decision that was in the team’s best interest, and not the player’s.
It’s the reality of business in the NBA, no different than that of any other industry. Harden has the right to be hurt by how it all went down, but he’s clearly in a better situation in Houston — both financially and professionally. It’s time to embrace it.