Everything is totally OK with the Houston Rockets.
Aside from being a complete disappointment on the court, vacillating in and out of the Western Conference’s playoff bracket, the Rockets have been dealing with some off-court stuff. Kevin McHale was fired a half-second into the season, and Houston reportedly shopped Howard to anyone who would listen at the trade deadline.
It turns out that James Harden may have had a hand in both those developments, according to sources who spoke with CBS Sports’ Ken Berger:
Few players in the NBA have been as assertive as Harden when it comes to franchise-shaping decisions of the highest order. He now plays with Howard in Houston, of course, and the Rockets’ season has been one disappointment after another. After a trip to the Western Conference Finals last season, Houston started the season 4-7 and promptly fired coach Kevin McHale.
Multiple league sources told CBS Sports that James Harden pushed management to dump McHale, and has since angled for the Rockets to trade Howard. Rockets GM Daryl Morey delivered on the first demand, but was unable to find a suitable deal for Howard at the trade deadline this month.
Rockets CEO Tad Brown later came out and completely denied this report, per the Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen, but the information presented doesn’t really seem like a stretch. Howard has overstayed his welcome or clashed with someone at every stop, and shit tends to hit the fan when the going gets tough anyway.
True or not, though, Harden won’t have to play with Howard for much longer. The big man is expected to decline his player option and explore free agency this summer, at which point it would be difficult to imagine him returning to Houston after all that’s happened.