Shooting guard Eric Gordon said he believes the trade that sent former franchise cornerstone James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets allows the Houston Rockets to have “a real direction” under first-year head coach Stephen Silas after a chaotic start to the season.
“Obviously, you could tell from the summer and since the season started that he didn’t want to be here,” Gordon said after Thursday’s shootaround, when he was the only member of the organization made available to the media. “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.”
Gordon was later ruled out of Thursday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Rockets announced a three-team deal with the Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday morning. Houston’s net haul in the deal is four first-round picks (the Nets’ in 2022, 2024 and 2026 and Milwaukee’s 2022 via Cleveland), the right to swap first-rounders with the Nets in four other years, ex-Cavs guard Dante Exum and former Nets guard Caris LeVert and forward Rodions Kurucs. LeVert will be rerouted to the Indiana Pacers in a separate trade for former All-Star shooting guard Victor Oladipo, sources said.
The deal brought resolution after an awkward few months in which Harden demanded a trade, held out of training camp and declared that the Rockets “just aren’t good enough” following Tuesday night’s blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, which ended up being the 2018 MVP’s final game in a Houston uniform.
“On behalf of the entire Rockets organization and the City of Houston, I’d like to thank James Harden for an amazing eight-plus seasons in a Rockets uniform,” Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said in a statement. “James has provided us with so many great memories as we’ve watched him grow from Sixth Man of the Year to a perennial All-Star and MVP. My family and I also want to thank James for his many off the court contributions, including generous charitable donations and multiple annual community events. We wish James the best of luck and will always be grateful for the memories.”
Rockets center DeMarcus Cousins ripped Harden for being “disrespectful” hours before the trade was finalized Wednesday, saying that Harden’s antics and comments had been “completely unfair” to his Houston teammates.
Gordon, who arrived in Houston before the 2016-17 season and was Harden’s longest-tenured Rockets teammate, didn’t take Harden’s comments so harshly.
“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.”