Disgruntled superstar James Harden said the Houston Rockets are "just not good enough" after the team's second consecutive blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, adding that he doesn't believe the team can improve enough to be a contender.
"I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can," Harden said after the Rockets' 117-100 loss. "I mean, this situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."
It's the closest Harden has come to going public with the trade demand that sources said he made during the offseason.
Houston has had trade discussions with several teams but is determined to remain patient until its asking price for Harden is met, a source told ESPN.
The Rockets (3-6) have lost four of five games since Harden, who held out of the beginning of training camp, returned from a right ankle sprain that caused him to miss one game. He has scored 20 points or fewer in each of the past four games, his longest such stretch since 2011-12, his final season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
This loss was especially noncompetitive, as the Rockets trailed 35-14 at the end of the first quarter.
"We're not even close, honestly, to that team -- obviously the defending champions -- and all the other elite teams out there," Harden said. "I mean, you can tell the difference in these last two games.
"We're just not good enough -- chemistry, talent-wise, just everything. And it was clear these last two games."