Did Warriors nemesis James Harden's trade clock just inch closer to midnight?
The Houston Rockets star doubled down on his offseason trade request Tuesday night after a 117-100 loss to the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers, saying that the Rockets "just aren't good enough" despite him "literally" doing "everything I can."
"This situation is crazy," Harden told reporters after the loss. "It's something that I don't think can be fixed. So, yeah. Thanks."
It's hard to imagine how tension in H-Town could've escalated further following Harden's late arrival to training camp last month, but it sure seems like we're in the endgame now.
Houston (3-6) is second-to-last in the Western Conference following Tuesday's loss, and it's difficult to envision Harden's attitude improving after his press conference and the preceding offseason of discontent. John Wall, whom the Rockets acquired in a trade with the Washington Wizards over the offseason, said he has had trouble developing chemistry with Harden. Wall also said Houston is having a "hard" time with certain players not buying in.
Had the Rockets received an offer they liked, it wouldn't have reached this point. Should their calculus change after the 2017-18 MVP vented his frustrations Tuesday night, it's very hard to imagine Houston receiving enough in a trade to make the team a concern to the Warriors, let alone any other team in the Western Conference.
The Warriors-Rockets rivalry, at least as Golden State knew it during five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, has been over for some time. A Harden trade would truly turn the page, though, and potentially open the door for the Warriors -- or any other contender -- to trade for P.J. Tucker or some of Houston's other veterans.
Harden would need to be traded as the first domino to fall, but that feels even more inevitable after his comments Tuesday.