Since joining the Rockets, James Harden has received 47% of possible MVP-voting points. The leaderboard during that seven-season span:
(Harden will almost certainly increase his lead over Curry and Durant this season. Harden will also likely cede ground to LeBron.)
LeBron, Curry and Durant have each won multiple championships in this timeframe.
Harden hasn’t even made the NBA Finals with Houston.
“We’ve worked together for eight or nine years now and I couldn’t have a better partner to try and win a title with. And in fact, most days I wake up saying, ‘I’ve let him down because I haven’t gotten him the right players to win a title.’ “
Morey has done an excellent job as Rockets general manager. He just can’t say the two biggest reasons Houston hasn’t won a title with Harden:
1. The Warriors have been historically great and a frequent roadblock.
2. Morey’s boss, Rockets own Tilman Fertitta, limited spending at a terribly inopportune time.
Everything else trails by a wide margin.
Even absent a championship, Morey and Harden have formed a successful partnership. Morey isn’t jeopardizing by publicly criticizing his best player, even if that means Morey taking the blame himself.
This is Morey’s M.O.: He’ll say whatever necessary to mask problems.
In this case, it’s productive. Morey hasn’t gotten the Rockets a championship. Sure, it’d be nice if Fertitta paid the luxury tax and Harden addressed more of his flaws. But Morey has only limited influence on Fertitta and Harden. There’s always room for a general manager to do his job even better, and Morey isn’t shrinking from that responsibility.