Much has been made about the Houston Rockets this year as they battle to try and get into contention in the Western Conference. After firing Kevin McHale and attempting to trade Dwight Howard at the deadline, the Rockets are trying to put the drama behind them and fight for the postseason. The news headlines around the team have not been kind and James Harden is reportedly at the center of all of it.
Multiple sources that is was Harden who pushed management to fire McHale and attempt to trade Howard, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Sources say the locker room dynamic is not good right now. Harden is the franchise star and has been trying to flex his weight with management and general manager Daryl Morey. Harden got his wish with the firing of McHale, but Morey was unable to find a trade for Howard and frustration is still high.
After hearing all of the reports regarding Howard and Harden, Rockets' CEO Tad Brown denied everything regarding Berger's report. Brown stressed that everyone is in a good place and Harden is not causing issues with the team.
"I can tell you unequivocally being part of that management, those things never happened," Brown said, via the Houston Chronicle. "That's frustrating. For whatever reason, it's been consistent throughout this season as we struggle on the court to try to get things where we want them to be that people continue to take shots at our guys, take shots at our team with unnamed sources routinely providing that information. Whether it is James supposedly came in and demanded there be a coaching change; that never happened. Whether it is Dwight came in and said he wanted to be traded; that never happened. These things come up and they take on a life of their own."
This is not the first time reports of issues between Harden and Howard have surfaced. The two have reportedly been at odds for some time now. The Rockets are trying to make a push for the playoffs and the relationship between the two on the court will go a long way in determining that. The Rockets bumped Josh Smith up to the starting role and now they need Harden and Howard to pick things up on their end. Interim head coach JB Bickerstaff believes the two stars can put things behind him as Howard stressed their relationship is fine.
"People will say what they want to say. There's no need for me and him to worry about that," Howard said, via the Houston Chronicle. "Our job is to grow and get better as a team and get better as individuals. I think me and James had a really good talk before the break. We're more on the same page than we've ever been. I'm always going to have his back; pretty sure he's always going to have my back."