The 2016-2017 NBA season begins tonight and somehow we still can’t get enough of the Houston Rockets drama from last year. We wrote about Rockets GM Daryl Morey wanting to accelerate Clint Capela’s development at the expense of Dwight Howard. In a report from ESPN’s Tim McMahon, we’ve come to find out that team superstar James Harden heavily influenced management’s decision to play Capela ahead of Howard.
League sources said input from face-of-the-franchise James Harden heavily influenced Houston management’s desire to decrease Howard’s minutes.
We knew Harden and Howard had a real difficult time coexisting last year but the assumption made by many was that Howard was to blame. It turns out Harden may have been the instigator. We don’t know for sure if it was a personality conflict, but what we can say is that basketball wise the two didn’t mesh. Harden is a heavy iso player that likes to pound the rock, shoot step backs and get fouled driving to the hoop. Not really an ideal situation for a guy like Dwight who believes he should be a key feature and get post touches in the offense.
In any event the Rockets are in spin mode now and looking to protect their superstar, with team sources insisting “Harden was not involved in those discussions” relating to Howard’s role. The Rockets had no choice in the matter. Harden is the guy that they intend to build the franchise around. If he has a problem with a player, coach, or anything basketball related the team has to listen and bend to his will more often than not.
It’s really amazing how one incident and a persistent media narrative can change the reputation of a player. Dwight certainly has his share of blame to shoulder for how things ended in Orlando. But, when he moved to the Lakers, the man led the league in rebounding with a busted shoulder. Then Kobe calls him soft and when he leaves for Houston everyone piles on. Now he is known around the league as this malcontent locker room cancer, which isn’t a fair characterization.