NBA

Harden speculation ramps up as Cousins turns on 'disrespectful' superstar

By Sports Desk January 13, 2021

James Harden appears increasingly likely to be traded by the Houston Rockets as his team-mates continue to vocalise opposition to the wantaway superstar.

Harden's desire to move elsewhere was evident in the offseason as both the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers were heavily linked.

No deal was agreed before the campaign began, however, and the 2018 MVP has played in eight of the 3-6 Rockets' nine games so far, scoring 24.8 points per game - his worst average since joining the team in 2012.

Harden's frustrations boiled over after Houston's latest 117-100 defeat to defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

He stormed out of a post-game news conference after saying: "I literally have done everything that I can. This situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

Those comments prompted backlash from All-Star team-mate John Wall, and Wednesday brought fresh reports of trade talks.

According to the New York Times, the Rockets want to do a deal with the Sixers for Ben Simmons and Tyrese Maxey, the rookie who has excelled amid Philadelphia's COVID-19 crisis.

The Athletic said Houston were looking for a swift resolution and could be offered all of the Nets' future first-round picks and pick swaps.

Harden's Rockets colleagues already look to be moving on, with DeMarcus Cousins facing the media on Wednesday to offer his take on the "antics".

"Obviously it's disrespectful, but everybody has their words and their opinions," Cousins said. "We feel a certain type of way about some of his actions.

"This is the nasty part of the business that kind of gets swept under the rug. You deal with these type of things when guys are in positions of being franchise players or whatever the case may be.

"It's sometimes or usually a nasty break-up. That's all part of this business.

"You know I'm going to say this: coming in every day, we want to work, get better, lead this younger group.

"Regardless of what's going on with the team, the guys that are showing up, that are committed, that are buying into the task at hand, we're going to go to war with those guys.

"Whatever those results are, we're going to live with it. We're going to leave it all on the floor and whatever happens happens."

He added: "The other 14 guys of the locker room have done nothing to him. We've only showed up to work like everybody else. It's completely unfair to the rest of the guys in the locker room."

Cousins was asked if he felt betrayed by Harden's behaviour, having only signed for the team last month, but replied he was more interested in playing with Wall.

"Me personally, I don't feel betrayed at all," he said. "My interest was to play with John Wall, to be brutally honest.

"That being said, the disrespect started way before any interview. [It was] just the approach to the training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court.

"The disrespect started way before. This isn't something that all of a sudden happened last night. With that being said, this is the nasty part of the business. It is what it is."

Asked if there was any way Harden could be welcomed back into the team, Cousins said: "I don't really think that's a question for us.

"I think that's a question for him: will he ever play with us again? I don't know. Quite honestly, I don't care."

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