This may be the end of the Harden-Howard era.
The Houston Rockets are heading into the All-Star break with a sub-.500 record, at ninth place in the Western Conference. Not only is this a far cry from where the world expected them to be at the beginning of the season, but this is a far cry from where the world expected them to be just a couple of weeks ago. There was a time in January when the group had won nine of their past twelve games, and it was starting to look like the ship was set back on course.
Now, the Rockets are the losers of six of their last eight games and out of the playoff picture. After a meeting with James Harden, Dwight Howard, coach JB Bickerstaff, and GM Daryl Morey that went “long into the night” following the most recent loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston is reportedly contacting teams about trades involving Howard.
With the trade deadline less than a week away, things are sure to be shaken up soon. As much as I hate to see it go, the Harden-Howard era may be quickly fading.
Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web
So, now it’s official; Dwight is sitting squarely on the trading block. With he and Harden being the only Rockets with substantial trade value, one would think a deal would likely be made before time runs out next week. However, as Bobby Marks of Yahoo Sports pointed out, that may be easier said than done. There just aren’t that many teams that both need a player like Howard and have the ability to put together a deal that would entice the Rockets to go for it. The facts are laid out and no stone is left unturned in the article, Here’s what the trade market for Dwight Howard looks like.
Several factors will limit potential trade partners for Howard to a small pool of teams.
Howard has missed over 50 games the past two seasons with a variety of ailments. Although Howard’s minutes have been high over the past few months, one has to wonder how much longer his body can hold up.
A team acquiring Howard has no assurance he will sign come July. Unless Houston gives permission, teams are not allowed to make contact with Howard.
Apparently, Howard isn’t the only Rocket whose name is being thrown around. According to Bleacher Report’s Mike Norris, the Cleveland Cavaliers have expressed interest in Houston’s Trevor Ariza. Because of his ability to play the stretch four, he could be a nice fit for the team. Though a trade is unlikely, it’s possible because of the underwhelming play of current power forward Kevin Love. There are a ton of questions surrounding Morey’s intent with most of the players on his roster right now, but by this time next week, they’ll all be answered. Check out Norris’s assessment of the situation in Cleveland: Trevor Ariza Trade Rumors: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation on Rockets Wing.
"The Cavaliers could use a veteran role player to go along with their Big Three of LeBron James, and Kevin Love. Ariza has been in the league since 2004, and along with his usual superb defense, he is typically efficient on the court, averaging just 1.5 turnovers per game in his career. He is also shooting 37.7 percent from three-point range in 2015-16, which would rank third on Cleveland among those who play at least 20 minutes per game. Kyrie Irving"
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In case you’re somehow unaware of the issues the Rockets have been having, veteran point guard Jason Terry will be happy to bring you up to speed. Alec Nathan of Bleacher Report put together an article featuring thoughts from Coach Bickerstaff and the JET on the Houston’s play as of late and assesses the team’s abysmal state: JB Bickerstaff, Jason Terry Comment on Rockets’ Struggles, Chemistry Issues
"But even if Howard has a change of heart, the Rockets aren’t in an enviable position. Howard and James Harden are the team’s only real cornerstone-caliber players, and the Western Conference has a clear upper crust Houston will have a hard time cracking as currently assembled."
I’ve been following the Rockets’ every move for about 15 years now, and I can confidently say that this is the most depressed I’ve ever been concerning the state of the team. The difference between where they are now and where they were supposed to be at the All-Star break is astounding.
This upcoming week will surely be a wild one, and I’ll be eager to see of Morey can pull off a miracle and help his team figure out how to play good basketball once again. Nobody (other than the Beard) is safe at this point.
The Harden-Howard era has been one of my favorite times as a Rockets fan, and it’s been the most successful group that I’ve ever had the privilege to witness. I’ve come to feel attached to this group and I’ll be truly sad to see it broken up. However, there’s a time for everything, and every era must come to an end.
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With the trade deadline around the corner, make sure you visit Space City Scoop on a daily basis for our trade series. Each day, SCS will feature an article on who the Rockets should trade for or what it would take to part ways with the players currently on the roster. Finally, we’ll assess the Rockets and each team in the Association in terms of what their needs are, if they should be buyers or sellers, and also speculate on who would be the ideal trade target.