The Houston Rockets were expected to be one of the NBA’s best teams this season. Coming off a Western Conference Finals trip and being led by James Harden and Dwight Howard many saw the Rockets as a darkhorse championship contender.
The Rockets, however, have been the biggest disappointment in the league, firing head coach Kevin McHale and attempting to trade Howard at the trade deadline.
According to CBS Sports’ Ken Berger, it was actually Harden who pushed for both of those moves:
Multiple league sources told CBS Sports that 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.
An unknown source also spoke on how the knowledge of Harden’s power within the organization can affect things on the court:
“It’s really bad for the locker room dynamic,” a person familiar with the situation told CBS Sports. “If everybody knows that James Harden can fire you or trade you, are you going to pass the ball to Dwight or are you going to pass the ball to James Harden?”
It is no secret that star players in the NBA tend to wield some kind of power within the organization. Stars don’t come along too often so teams try to do whatever they can to appease them. That can cause some issues however, as this example shows.
Harden will surely come under some criticism for his perceived role in the firing of McHale. Howard also seems likely to leave in the off-season so the Rockets could look much different next year.