James Harden had an incredible 2015 season for the Houston Rockets, one that rightfully had him neck-and-neck with Stephen Curry in the race for the league’s Most Valuable Player award.
He did everything possible from an offensive standpoint to carry the Rockets for the bulk of the year, as Dwight Howard missed significant time, and key role players in Patrick Beverley and Donatas Montiejunas were lost well before the playoffs after suffering season-ending injuries.
Despite the lack of depth, Houston was still able to make it to the Western Conference Finals — and it was all thanks to the brilliance of Harden. As the Rockets look to improve their chances for next season, the team’s primary (and perhaps only) legitimate playmaker says he’d like some help offensively, so he doesn’t have to consistently do it all by himself.
Rockets guard James Harden made the familiar case for continuity the Rockets have never had since he’s been in Houston. He spoke of the strengths of a roster that won 56 games and reached the Western Conference Finals. He cited the difference between the Warriors and Rockets, pointing quickly to his own turnovers.
Yet, when Rockets general manager Daryl Morey puts together his shopping list, Harden had a suggestion.
He said he “definitely” would like to see the Rockets add another playmaker to take some of that responsibility out of his hands.
“That’s one of the conversations me and Daryl are going to have (and) the coaches,” Harden said. “That’s one of the pieces to add, but that’s later conversations. We’ll be all right. We’re very confident in the group we have. This summer we have to work hard and be ready for next year.”
The Rockets have plenty of decisions to make this summer. Josh Smith, Corey Brewer and Jason Terry were all part of the playoff rotation, and all three were on extremely inexpensive deals, but are now unrestricted free agents heading into next season. Beverley is a restricted free agent, and will command a fairly large sum on the open market which the Rockets may or may not decide to match.
Harden, Howard and Trevor Ariza are all locked up on multi-year deals. Beyond that, in terms of what the roster in Houston might look like next season, things get murky pretty fast.