The stars run the NBA. Wednesday was only further proof of that.
James Harden’s month’s long-trade demand culminated in him being shipped off to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, in exchange for a haul of draft picks (four) and draft swaps (four) sent in return to the Houston Rockets.
The trade took place just hours after Harden told reporters that the situation in Houston was not fixable, and after Harden looked lackluster and out of shape in another blowout at the hands of the Lakers.
Ever since LeBron James’ infamous “Decision” in 2010, players have been largely dictating the terms of their employment in the NBA. The manner in which they do so has become more extreme, with Harden’s situation probably coming the closest we’ve seen to a player forcing a trade by actively quitting on their team. By the way, Harden was under contact with the Rockets through 2023, earning an average of around $45 million per season. But these things don’t matter in the modern NBA.
Somethings should matter according to hall of famer Chris Mullin, who joined Papa & Lund on Wednesday to share his disdain for Harden’s conduct, calling his actions a black mark on the entire league.
“It’s something I haven’t in the past associated with the NBA, or associated with professionalism,” Mullin began. “So to me this is unprofessional, it’s disrespectful and you’re not being a teammate. Look, there have been trade demands since the league has started. That always goes on. How you do it matters.
“Whether it be James Harden or Kyrie Irving, during this pandemic, the first concern is health, mental and physical. Once that is established that they are okay, how you conduct yourself matters, and I just disagree with the way they are handling it, because there’s a way to do it, and you’ll get traded. But in the meantime you’re putting undo pressure, and tension to everybody, not just you. If it was just about you, you should’ve played singles tennis, or you should’ve been a swimmer. This is a team sport, and it also trickles down to the rest of the league, I think it makes the league look bad.”
Part of the reason the Nets were reportedly willing to trade such a haul in exchange for Harden, is their concern for Irving, who himself has taken a leave of absence from the team for over a week. The details of why exactly he cannot or will not play remain unknown.
“Unprofessional, and in a lot of respects, not even an NBA franchise the way things are being handled,” Mullin concluded of the Rockets. “It’s unacceptable to me.”
Listen to the full interview below.