The Beard has left Toyota Center.
Following a tumultuous start to the 2021 season, the Houston Rockets have reportedly granted James Harden his not-so-secret wish to be dealt to another team. The Rockets MVP and perennial All-Star guard has been traded to the Brooklyn Nets, sources tell ESPN.
This news comes as Harden did not practice with the Rockets on Wednesday, January 13. Head coach Stephen Silas told reporters that it would be “best for everyone involved” if Harden stayed away from practice, ESPN reports.
The mega-trade also involves the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers. Notably for local fans, Houston will net Pacers star guard Victor Oladipo.
Looking to the future, Houston will also receive Brooklyn’s three unprotected first-round draft picks — 2022, 2024, and 2026 — according to an ESPN report. The Rockets also get Cleveland’s 2022 first-round pick.
In Brooklyn, Harden will be reunited with Kevin Durant, his former teammate during their successful run at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Houston moved quickly to trade Harden and hold him from practice after he announced during a postgame presser on January 12 that his team couldn’t be “fixed,” simply isn’t “good enough” to compete for an NBA championship, and that he has “literally” done all he can for the Rockets — following a blowout loss to LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers.
Harden’s Rockets teammate, center DeMarcus Cousins, took issue with The Beard’s behavior of late, calling it “unfair” and “disrespectful” to the other players. (In December, Harden threw a basketball at rookie Jae'Sean Tate during a heated exchange.)
“This is the nasty part of the business that kind of gets swept under the rug,” Cousins told reporters after a January 13 practice, according to ESPN. “You deal with some of these things. When guys are in positions of being franchise players or whatever the case may be, it's usually sometimes a nasty breakup.”
Time will tell if Houstonians will pine for The Beard following this “nasty breakup.” The scoring machine and 3-point maestro had a tepid love affair with the city — even after he scored a GQ cover. Devoted fans can always dine at his upcoming Thirteen restaurant. Others who won’t miss him can trade their No. 13 jersey for a free carwash.
For those keeping score: Harden and the Nets will play the Rockets on Wednesday, March 3 at Toyota Center.