Regardless of how you feel about James Harden—whether you think he’s a villain, a system player, an offensive genius, whatever—one thing is certain after The Beard finally engineered his exit from Houston on Wednesday: The pressure on Harden to win is now greater than ever before.
Those are the stakes that come up with superstar power moves. Harden entered this season clearly over his tenure with the Rockets. He showed up late to training camp. He didn’t appear to be in great shape. He flagrantly violated the league’s COVID protocols. And he basically said his teammates weren’t good enough in his final press conference.