James Harden has spoken of his regret over the way his eight-year tenure with the Houston Rockets ended last month.
The star guard began the year with a $50,000 fine for violating COVID-19 protocols after the league reviewed video of him socialising without a mask at a club.
And things came to a head following the Rockets’ 117-100 loss to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers on January 12 when the 31-year-old criticised the team as being “just not good enough” and that it was a situation that “can’t be fixed”.
The eight-time All-Star and the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2017-18 was subsequently traded to rivals Brooklyn Nets the following day.
“(I) apologise for how it went down, but I guess I had to do what I had to do in order to get to where I wanted to go,” Harden told ESPN.
“And credit to Houston, they didn’t necessarily have to trade me to Brooklyn. They could have traded me anywhere, but those are some stand-up guys over there.
“And it ended up the right way, but just didn’t like how that month or two played out.”
On his behaviour during his final days with the Rockets, Harden added: “I don’t like it at all because that’s not who I am.
“The drama, the extra whatever you want to call it, the negativity for me. I don’t really like negative energy. That’s draining. So I don’t like how it necessarily happened.
“I feel like it could have happened a lot smoother, a lot easier, but it is what it is.”
The Nets are 8-6 since Harden arrived, and they have lost four of their past six games entering a Saturday contest against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.