The Houston Rockets have been trying to catapult themselves to the top of the West for a few years now. The biggest trade during that time was the acquisition of former Clippers point guard Chris Paul. The result has been one not exactly what the Rockets wanted, as they have fallen short year after year. Along with falling short, people wondered how the pairing of Paul and James Harden would work out. Some immediately thought it was going to be a disaster while others believed it could be magical. Well, after two years, it seems like the honeymoon is over for Paul, Harden and the Houston Rockets. After their second playoff series lost to the Warriors, it seems like all kind of rumors and statements are coming out of Houston.
The biggest of those rumors around are talk of Chris Paul requesting a trade and the Rockets make everyone available via trade. Swiftly, the Rockets and Chris Paul have denied these trade rumors, but there is talk that Harden and Paul cannot get along anymore and that they will not be paired with each going into next season. This could not have happened at the worst time because the Warriors are injured and won't be the same next season. Harden, despite people not liking his style of play, is a top player in the NBA and can carry the Rockets. Chris Paul, despite his deficiencies as he has gotten older, can still distribute and do his thing as well. And as far as the supporting cast, the Rockets do have pieces that can cause problems like Eric Gordon, Clint Capela and PJ Tucker.
All these pieces combine to make the Rockets formidable, but it seems like the Rockets are just not happy with who they are. Paul and Harden seemingly aren't happy, D'Antoni seems not happy without a new deal and the organization just seems to have hit a wall. Everyone seems to not want to be there, but the best option is for them to stick together honestly. Chris Paul has a contract that no one really wants because of the injuries and the production that comes with it, but he fits in Houston. Capela fits the system they have in Houston and the fringe guys around them all know their roles and know what needs to be done. Taking it to the next level totally depends on one guy essentially in Houston: James Harden. While he puts up buckets, he has yet to reach that championship level of play. In order for him to do that, Harden has to change his offensive approach along with working on his defense.
Harden is a talented player and he undoubtedly is one of the best one-on-one players in the NBA, but he often sucks up the entire shot clock trying to dribble the basketball as much as he shoots it. Paul may not be the player he once was, but he can make life easier for Harden if he moves off the ball some. Paul can get more people involved and he also encourages ball movement, which would get more players involved and also make the Rockets even more dangerous on the offensive end. And on the defensive end, if Harden showed more on that end, he could help the Rockets be more efficient and get more buckets along with taking some pressure off Capela on the back end of the defense. At this point, he hasn't necessarily showed the consistency at that end of the court and there isn't any indication he will do so, but does he want to win is the question?
Things are falling apart is what it seems like in Houston. At a time where they should be getting ready to take advantage of their opportunity, they seem to be losing all thoughts of wanting to win, instead focused on their egos. Maybe they will get a dose of reality that this is their best shot at a title if they stick together and maybe Harden will understand you have to sacrifice some things in order to be a champion. Only time will tell, but for right now, this seems like a team falling apart near their window of opportunity.