It’s funny how quickly perceptions change: Daryl Morey is no longer a genius, Kevin McHale was never a good head coach, the Houston Rockets look awful, and James Harden goes from MVP to the biggest problem on the team.
We hate being ‘I told you so’ kind of guys, but after every Rockets loss over the last few years, we’ve written about how the Rockets are falling into a trap with Harden. A player who has a unique set of offensive skills, but is a black hole on defense not because of anything physical; he simply doesn’t feel like guarding most of the time. The over reliance on his ability and the lack of any kind of attempt to curb his dominance on the floor with a Plan B is now hitting this team straight in the face.
Making the head coach someone who might help develop players but has zero control over what goes on the court helped lead to this as well. The Rockets are Daryl Morey’s team. It’s a great organization to sign for, with an owner that wants to win but doesn’t put impossible pressure on those under him. But this makes the head coach expendable, and the players know it. Harden could do whatever he wanted on the court. McHale had to work around that, but when it’s such a central issue on this team, it’s hard to make it work 100% smoothly.
The Rockets do have some problems they can’t control. Dwight Howard is rested every two or three games, which never helps, but he’s also on a decline on both ends of the floor. Patrick Beverley is never healthy, the team let go of Josh Smith foolishly after making him fit quite well in their system and the signing of Ty Lawson is backfiring on them, not to mention that he might be going to jail instead of being the tiebreaker for the Rockets in the West.
Rumors often don’t turn out to be true, but there was nothing surprising to hear about players who have had enough of Harden and his lack of effort on the floor. He responded to that with an offensive explosion, but soon went back to his old ways. Missing, and then trying to make up for that by not giving a damn about defense and missing some more bad shots offensively. Don’t be fooled by his 10 assists in their recent loss, this time to the Knicks. At this point of the season, with his teammates reacting to him like this, Harden is more harm than good for the Houston Rockets.