When the Houston Rockets signed Dwight Howard in 2013, they thought they had acquired the final piece to their championship puzzle to help them win their franchises first championship since 1994. Howard was supposed to be the next Hakeem Olajuwon or Yao Ming of the franchise. Dwight was a talented yet frustrated star in LA and was hoping to find a change of scenery in H-Town. He was gonna move on from Kobe Bryant and move on to James Harden and form one of the most dynamic duos the league has ever seen, but it hasn’t worked out that way.
At first, the relationship seemed to work like a charm. In the first two years, the Rockets made the playoffs in their first year but were knocked out in the first round each time. Dwight and Harden got along on and off the court and it seemed as though Dwight had found a new home in Houston. The Rockets were successful and playing well as a team.
Last season, the Rockets made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals, before they ran into the machine that is Golden State. But it looks as though that was the beginning of the end for the duo in Houston.
Since the game five loss that ended their season (in which Harden had 12 turnovers), the relationship between Howard, Harden and quite frankly the whole organization has been in shambles.
Rumors and reports have been flying around that both players tried to get one another traded throughout the offseason and regular season. Both have put themselves before the team and it’s the reason why they’re struggling this season. Although CEO Tad Brown has denied the reports, there seems to be a good chance that these conversations really happened.
Howard most likely wanted to run Harden out of town because he wasn’t comfortable being the second option on offense, just like he was in LA. But Dwight’s offensive ability has always lagged behind and his defense has always been his calling card. He wants the ball in his hands on the block, but with Harden being a ball dominant, score first guard, Howard wasn’t really getting his touches.
The Rockets have to be thankful that Dwight Howard is a potential free agent after this season, and looking at it right now, Howard will opt out of his player option and sign somewhere else.
Another report that has come out is that James Harden asked for head coach Kevin McHale to be fired earlier in the year. Whether or not its true that Harden did ask for his removal, McHale was fired after just 11 games.
I’m not sure when players just decided they could be above the team, but both of these guys seem to think they are. It’s sad because both of them are talented players and can lead teams for periods of times. It’s too late for Howard and Harden to reconcile their differences and move past this embarrassing rivalry they have.
The Rockets are currently out of the playoff picture just one season removed from the Conference Finals without much roster changeover. The feud between James Harden and Dwight Howard is downright childish, I’m just glad it’s likely to end soon.