A report earlier this season said Dwight Howard didn’t like playing second fiddle to James Harden on the Rockets. Howard denied it, but here’s more evidence of the players’ discord.
Fran Blinebury of NBA.com (hat tip: reddit user Longh0rns):
Howard and Harden have been an oil-and-water mix since they came together for the 2012-13 season. 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.
Harden is a difficult teammate to play with, dominating the ball and so much of every shot clock and Howard too often felt ignored.
[Correction: That Rockets-Trail Blazers series occurred in 2014.]
Plenty could have changed since 2014, and Howard and Harden clicked well enough last season to lead the Rockets to the Western Conference finals.
But it’s hard to watch their disharmony – and, by extension, the Rockets’ disharmony – this season and believe there are no lingering issues. It’s easier to get over those problems when the team is winning. When it’s losing, personal issues can be both a cause and symptom, snowballing on themselves.
To whatever extent Howard and Harden are still battling, Harden is winning. That’s only logical considering Harden is better, four years younger and on a more favorable contract.
If Howard wants to stay in Houston (he says he does) and play without Harden (much more questionable), Howard should have campaigned better two years ago.
After missing two entire seasons, all signs are pointing to 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid finally taking the court this season. Last week, Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Embiid has looked great in his workouts and is on track to play in the preseason, and Embiid himself echoed that sentiment over the weekend. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Marc Narducci that he feels “100 percent.”
There’s always a possibility and fear that Embiid’s recurring foot problems will come back, but for now, all indications are that he’s feeling good and will be able to contribute this season, which should make Sixers fans excited.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.