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Houston Rockets superstar growing frustrated

James Harden remains one of the league's very brightest stars, and yet not all is well in Houston.

James Harden has been as good as ever, but the 2015-2016 Houston Rockets can't say the same.
James Harden has been as good as ever, but the 2015-2016 Houston Rockets can't say the same.
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Calvin Watkins of ESPN reports that James Harden is growing frustrated with his team's surprising fall to the bottom of the western conference playoff picture.

Despite Tuesday's impressive performance in Oakland, the Rockets are a disappointing 27-28 (eighth in the west). That puts them on track for yet another playoff series with the Golden State Warriors if the season were to finish today.


[When Rockets head coach] "...Bickerstaff demanded more of his players, he was specifically asking for more effort on defense. This is where the Rockets -- and Harden -- at times fall short.

It's a major issue, and Harden is at the forefront. He noted the number of minutes he plays and says that makes it difficult for him to play at a high level on both ends. Still, fatigued or not, his ability to get through screens is poor. Harden has a minus-0.4 defensive box plus/minus this season."

While the odds of a mid-season James Harden trade remain to be approximately 0.0, this situation may still deserve attention. The celebrated off-season acquisition of Ty Lawson hasn't yet paid dividends. He and Dwight Howard are under contract for just one more year, and the Rockets still have a number of intriguing pieces, young and old, who should draw interest around the Association.

Combined with a shrewd and opportunistic general manager like Daryl Morey, and the Rockets could be the wild card team in 2016 that could jump in any direction, at any time.

We won't know if the team will decide to stand pat, upgrade or sell off veterans until the February 18 trade deadline. And even still, the team can and will make changes in the off-season. But whatever Houston decides, we can be certain it will have some impact on the playoff picture this season.

Edit: Since writing, reports have surfaced that Dwight Howard is discussing trade destinations. It seems he doesn't enjoy playing with Harden. Oy vey!

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