Dissatisfied superstar James Harden said the Houston Rockets are “just not good enough” after the team’s second straight loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, adding that he does not think the team can improve enough to be a challenger.
“I love this city. I’ve literally done everything I can,” Harden said after the Rockets’ 117-100 loss. “I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something I do not think can be solved.”
That’s the closest Harden has come to becoming public with the trading need that sources say he put forward in the offseason.
Houston’s front office is determined to remain patient until their sales price for the 201
The Rockets have had active / ongoing trade discussions with “more than half a dozen teams”, according to a source close to the situation, and have communicated with Harden about these opportunities.
Harden made it clear to owner Tilman Fertitta before the season that he did not believe in the direction and ability of the franchise to fight and preferred to be traded to a team that was in a better position to win, sources said.
Fertitta was disappointed, but told Harden he would explore the trading market on the Rockets’ schedule. He has since given assurances to Harden that he will replace him, authorizing the new general manager Rafael Stone to deal with the three-time scoring champion, who has three years and $ 133 million with a player option for last season back on his contract , he finds a deal he likes.
The Rockets have lost four out of five games since Harden, who kept out of the start of training camp, has returned from a right ankle sprain that caused him to miss a game. He has scored 20 points or fewer in the last four games, his longest stretch since 2011-12, his final season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
This loss was particularly uncompetitive as the Rockets trailed 35-14 at the end of the first quarter. Houston fell to 3-6, just half a game ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves for the worst record in the Western Conference.
“We are not even close to that team – of course the defending champions – and all the other elite teams out there,” said Harden. “I mean, you can see the difference in these last two games.
“We’re just not good enough – chemistry, talent, just everything. And that was clearly those last two games.”
Harden ended his virtual news conference after just two questions. Rockets point guard John Wall, who arrived for a trade for Russell Westbrook just before the start of training camp, noted that players concerned about personal agendas can bring a team down.
“He speaks for his own opinion. I do not know what he thinks of the team or how he feels as we are,” Wall said. “I know how much hard work these guys put in … to try to get better every day. I know how much work I put into it to get back and compete as a high level.
“There are a lot of guys here who want to compete at a high level. Like I told everyone tonight and told the guys before, when one in 15 guys are all on the same page and they commit and they know their role, and they know what they want to get out of this and it’s to win, it’s all going to be fine, but when you have certain guys in the mix who do not want to buy it all as one, it’s going to be hard to do anything. special or something good as a basketball team. “
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne contributed to this report.