Harden called out the team in public, arrived late and out of shape to training camp, and did whatever he could to leave town as soon as possible.
That’s why it was kind of shocking to hear that he could be considering a return to the Rockets after this season, as he could opt out of the second year of his contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Harden, however, didn’t seem to care too much about those rumors or the fact that reporters asked him about that right after beating the New York Knicks on Christmas day:
“I’m here,” Harden told the media. “We are playing very well. And I don’t know where the report came from. But I’m very excited to be here. We are playing well, and we’re continuing to get better.”
James Harden was asked about the Woj report that he’s considering going back to Houston: “I don’t know where that report came from.” pic.twitter.com/fdvzSPZNXr
— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) December 26, 2022
“Why would you ask me about that on Christmas, man?” Harden added. “You didn’t say Merry Christmas or nothing. You asked me about something that I ain’t even — I’m not answering. I didn’t see nothing.”
Harden is one of the greatest players in Rockets history, ranking way up with legends like Hakeem Olajuwon.
But it’s not like a lot has changed since he left town.
Of course, his trade helped the Rockets rebuild and retool for the future with a plethora of young players, but it’s not like they’re ready to compete for an NBA championship any time soon, not even if he comes back.
Also, bringing Harden back would most likely hamper their young players’ development, so it may not make sense for the Rockets, either.