In the first episode of his new podcast “LightHarted”, Hart thanked the Lakers franchise for giving him a chance to play in the NBA:
“Don’t get me wrong: I am super grateful for the Lakers organization. For Magic, for Jeanie, for believing in me. For my teammates, you know I had some great teammates there. Amazing to be a Laker for the last few years, to be wearing that purple and gold, that’s a dream come true... It’s crazy. It’s crazy. And obviously I wish them nothing but success in the future, but I’m a very loyal guy, so I’m a New Orleans Pelican, and I’m all into that. I’m focused, and I’m excited to help build a great, winning culture there with some of the great guys that we have.”
Hart also tweeted out a special message from his personal account.
...through all the ups and downs! One of the best fan bases in the league. It was a dream come true to wear the purple and gold! It’s always love on this side but now N.O. “Let’s dance”— Josh Hart (@joshhart) June 22, 2019
It would be natural to have some hard feelings about being shipped out to New Orleans, but Hart seems to have a good perspective about the situation. It’s interesting that he didn’t thank Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, but he showed appreciation for most of the front office that brought him into the league and gave him a chance to be a professional basketball player.
Hart’s last season wasn’t smooth sailing, as he dealt with injury and was unhappy with the way he was utilized after working on his ball-handling skills during the offseason. Hart also didn’t seem to have a great relationship with Luke Walton, but he had apparently started to build a rapport with Frank Vogel, showing his commitment to the Lakers even as the team was considering moving him.
The Lakers have dealt with some unpleasant exits over the past few years, whether it was Magic Johnson dismissing D’Angelo Russell’s leadership, Brook Lopez expecting a contract that never arrived, or Julius Randle asking to have his qualifying offer revoked. Hart’s departure shows an understanding that the league is a business, and even if a player is no longer on a team, he can still appreciate the opportunity and wish the team well after moving on.
Hopefully Hart finds success in New Orleans. He was a valued member of the franchise and his play will be missed.