James Harden is (looks like he won’t finish it) in his ninth season with the Houston Rockets. He has played in Texas more than 600 Regular Season games in which he averages almost 30 points, 6 rebounds and 7.7 assists. He was MVP in 2018, he has always been all star and has entered the Best Quintet of the season six times. The Rockets, meanwhile, have not missed the playoffs with him (no other team has made it through all those seasons) and have been a clear contender for the ring at least a couple of times. It can be conceded that they were the best team in the NBA 2017-18: 65 wins and two match points wasted in a tremendous final in the West that the Warriors ended up winning 3-4, in Houston and against some Rockets who had lost (checkmate) to Chris Paul due to injury. The Harden stage in Houston is a resounding success by almost any measure. The ring has been missing, of course, or at least play a Finals. The definitive step, for which it is most difficult to separate responsibilities and discern what was badly planned or what was simply not called to happen. Sometimes it all depends, like in 2018, of a muscle in Chris Paul’s thigh.
James Harden is one of the great weapons of attack in the entire history of the NBA. And he has dazzled in a system created by and for him. On the court and off it, the Rockets of recent years were a numerical experiment (maximizing the shot of three) finally put at the service of their franchise player. An extraordinary one … but one with whom (plans, luck, thigh muscles…) The Rockets have not been able to be champions. Harden has come up short in (a few) big games, has had a not always healthy attitude, has shown little leadership after painful eliminations and each year he has seemed more above his organization, surrendered to his feet, than the previous one. Now he says that “there is no solution“And that the situation is”crazy”. But it is, neither more nor less, a situation largely created by him, a megastar what He did not marry Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, or Russell Westbrook … All those who have left can, to a greater or lesser extent, point to the unhealthy culture that had taken hold in Houston. Everyone except Harden: he is the culture.
As soon as Daryl Morey, the architect, and Mike D’Antoni, the coach left, it was clear that James Harden’s time in Houston was over. The last experiment, with Westbrook, sounded like a final attempt, the harder still. A year later, in fact, Westbrook is in Washington and Harden would like to be anywhere but Houston, where has not given a chance and has put in an unsolvable situation newcomers like John Wall and Christian Wood, loyal squires like PJ Tucker and a new coach, Stephen Silas, who debuts in office sitting in an electric chair. And the Rockets get bogged down: How much does Harden depreciate each day in the current situation? ¿What is the best way to deal with your big star when he wants to leave? Many franchises have faced these questions in the past and they almost always end in the same answer: no matter what you win, it ends. losing.
Harden, this also counts, is 31 years old and has more than 135 million guaranteed through the summer of 2023. You will end up finding an optimal destination because talent always wins, but it is legitimate to question what you are really willing to do to be a champion, how much you can put aside after impersonating a franchise for years subjected to your whims and how many of the things that has done (starting with the clubs striptease during the preseason) have little to do with the tension of their situation and a lot to do with, ultimately, who is james harden. Right now, an unfortunate reversal of NBA player empowerment. And, although he does not want to admit it, the great responsible for many of the evils that he now recognizes with astonishment in his own team.