James Harden is to blame for the Rockets' coaching problem.
This is a three part series delivering "hot takes" and putting several key members of the Houston Rockets organization "on blast" for stumbling through the process of finding a new head coach.
Dwight Howard's past coach killing experience addled the perception of who's to blame for the Houston Rockets' current predicament. At this point Howard owns the firing of Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy in 2012. The coach killing ordeal came complete with one of the most awkward moments in NBA history. For months Howard has shared the blame of the Rockets faltering team chemistry.
But the firing of Kevin McHale after 11 games, that lays squarely at the feet of James Harden.
Harden desires the undisputed title of team alpha dog, but he hasn't shown a clear willingness to shoulder the weight of being the a team leader at the same time. At the start of the 2015 - 2016 season Harden disappointed fans, the team and McHale by showing up out of shape, disinterested in playing defense and more associated with popular culture than on-court productivity.
The Beard's continued inability to marry these two sets of circumstances creates a cloudy future for a franchise at a crossroads and this problem has manifested itself in the fourteen candidate month-long search for a new coach.
While not being publicly communicated, it's clear Harden has his own opinions of what specialties the next Rockets head coach should bring to the table. Pure speculation: Likely a younger player-friendly coach with past experience as an NBA player.
J.B. Bickerstaff fits much of the bill for Harden's presumed desire and it's likely he kept the job as long as he did because the Rockets hoped he could fulfill part of what Harden wanted to see. The results just weren't there.
With the rare exception of the Spurs and Gregg Popovich the NBA is controlled by players. The growth of contracts, the ability to force trades and shorter NBA contracts have transferred power to superstars, just ask David Blatt. And for the Rockets James Harden is that player. There's every indication Harden's buy in, investment in defense and willingness to play with others will be tethered to who the Rockets hire.
Tom Thibodeau could never have been the coach of the Rockets. Thibodeau's hard driving style and propensity to irritate everyone around him would create a rift with James Harden within a month of pairing them together. Make no mistake, Thibodeau is the best coach the Rockets could have hired. But the Rockets never could have hired Thibodeau because his relationship with James Harden would have collapsed almost immediately.
Right now Les Alexander and Daryl Morey can't move forward with the best coaching prospects. James Harden is the team's centerpiece and it comes at a cost. Alexander and Morey have to identify and move forward with the best possible coach who can command respect and built a productive relationship with Harden. Not the best overall coach.
Even if the Rockets find their man, nothing gold lasts forever. Just ask Kevin McHale.
This is a three part series delivering "hot takes" and putting several key members of the Houston Rockets organization "on blast" for stumbling through the process of finding a new head coach. For the last decade the Houston Rockets have built a sterling reputation as a franchise who makes results-oriented decisions while revolutionizing shot value and NBA front office machinations. In the past month, that reputation has begun to fracture.
The month-long fourteen candidate search for a new head coach has painted a clear public divide between owner Les Alexander, general manager Daryl Morey and all-star guard James Harden. Current attempts to hire both a head coach and an associate head coach, independent of each other, mean the trio is trying to compromise. But the fact the Rockets don't have a head coach already guarantees one thing... at the end of the day, someone is going to be unhappy.