Eric Gordon Says It Was Obvious James Harden Didn't Want to Be with Rockets

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IJanuary 14, 2021

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) and guard Eric Gordon (10) sit on the scoring table during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, in Miami. The Heat won 101-99. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

James Harden's former Houston Rockets teammates are beginning to provide more context about star guard's calamitous start to the season now that he's on his way to join the Brooklyn Nets

Eric Gordon has been in Houston since the 2016-17 season and said it was clear Harden had no interest in buying in.

"Obviously, you could tell from the summer and since the season started that he didn't want to be here," Gordon told reporters Thursday. "For us, I think it just gives us a chance to [have] a real direction. Everyone else on the team can hone in and not worry about his situation. We can just move forward." 

That real direction begins Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs, though Gordon has already been ruled out with left leg tightness. 

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Sources: Full current trade: Rockets: Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, 3 BKN first-rounders (22, 24, 26), 1 MIL first (22, unprotected), 4 BKN 1st round swaps (21, 23, 25, 27) Nets: James Harden Pacers: Caris LeVert, 2nd-rounder Cavs: Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince

The trade removes the biggest issue both on and off the court for first-year head coach Stephen Silas, who now gets to work on rebuilding the Rockets in earnest. The addition of Victor Oladipo in the backcourt will certainly help there, even if the former Indiana Pacers star doesn't bring the same scoring touch Harden boasts (Oladipo has averaged 20.0 points per game this season to Harden's 24.8 points)

The Rockets (3-6) was not ready to contend in the Western Conference, falling to second-to-last place in the standings on Tuesday and leading to the 31-year-old's postgame outburst.

After calling his situation in Houston "something I don't think can be fixed", Harden, in his ninth year with the team, was jettisoned to the only Nets hours later. Gordon, who's been in the league for 13 years now, understands the guard's comments had more to do with the business of the NBA and the players he leaves behind in Houston.

"For me, knowing him personally, I don't think he really meant it as far as disrespecting us," Gordon said. "That's just for me. I think he just wanted a different situation. He's kind of shown that, and he also said it. ... I don't think he really meant to really disrespect the players, but he wanted his way out. And he got it."

Harden began demanding a trade last offseason and was finally able to force the franchise to move him a few months later. Houston got Oladipo along with two players, four first-round draft picks and three pick swaps. That seems to be the best outcome for both player and franchise.