It’s readily apparent that the marriage between James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston has not been going too swimmingly.
It’s now reached the point where the Rockets have reportedly put Howard, an eight-time All-Star, on the trade block leading up to Thursday’s deadline.
Howard, 30, also possesses an opt-out clause in his contract that enables him to become a free agent in July. It’s a clause the big man is more than likely going to use in order to cash in on the increased salary cap around the Association.
Now comes this report from Fran Blinebury of NBA.com suggesting that Howard and Harden tried to get one another traded following their premature exit from the playoffs back in 2012-13:
“Howard and Harden have been an oil-and-water mix since they came together for the 2012-13 season,” the scribe wrote earlier in February. “It was only days after Damian Lillard’s 3-point dagger eliminated them in the first round of their first playoff series together when both were sending out messages and maneuvering to get the other one traded.”
This is news that has largely flown under the radar since being reported. It’s also something we have to take into account leading up to the trade deadline on Thursday.
If Harden still holds some ill-will towards Howard, it’s more than likely that any long-term union between the two wouldn’t work out.
And if Howard himself decides to opt out, a scenario that would earn him roughly $6 million more per season than his current deal, it’s also likely the big man won’t return to Houston.
At under .500 heading into the unofficial second half of the season, the Rockets are unlikely to contend for a conference title moving forward. That’s only magnified with the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs sitting atop the conference.
Why hold on to Howard for two more months if the end result is going to be letting him walk for nothing? While Howard’s trade value is likely at an all-time low, it makes much more sense for the Rockets to cash in, even if it’s pennies on the dollar.
That’s taken to a whole new level based on a reported rift between the center and the face of the Rockets franchise.