February 25, 2016, 3:11 pm
From the Western Conference Finals to the uncertainty of a playoff berth this season, the Houston Rockets are struggling to find unity in their locker room. Now CBS Sports’ Ken Berger reports that Rockets three-time All-Star James Harden was the catalyst behind the firing of head coach Kevin McHale.
“Multiple league sources told CBS Sports that Harden pushed management to dump McHale, and has since angled for the Rockets to trade Howard.”- Ken Berger
While the Rockets were able to deliver on their franchise player’s first demand they were unable to find a suitor for Howard, as they grapple with the messy business of keeping Harden happy. And after McHale led this team to a Western Conference Final in the fashion he did, to get fired the next season because their player and coach are not seeing eye-to-eye is disappointing.
This Rockets locker room is falling to pieces with rumors of tension between Dwight Howard and Harden being at an all-time high. This team, just one season removed from being a title contender, believed that Howard was the missing piece for their franchise. He was expected to be the big man that would draw double teams and give easier looks for Harden on the perimeter.
In their two games back from the All-Star break the Rockets have gone 1-1, beating the Phoenix Suns on Friday and losing on Tuesday to the Utah Jazz. Now the Rockets are a half-game back of the Jazz for that eighth and final playoff spot.
Houston needs to have their two stars find, at the least, a mutual respect for one another — to build unity with each other and earn that wanted / unwanted first round against the Warriors. Houston goes as far as Harden takes them, but he cannot carry this team alone if they have any chance of making the playoffs.