Rockets star James Harden still hasn’t publicly explained his trade request.
But it appears Houston’s coaching search was a tipping point.
Tyronn Lue was linked to the Rockets before getting hired by the Clippers. At one point, Jeff Van Gundy appeared to be the favorite. Then, it appeared Rockets assistant John Lucas — reportedly preferred by Harden at that point — might be the favorite.
Ultimately, Houston hired Stephen Silas.
Joe Vardon of The Athletic:
Harden wanted Tyronn Lue to be his coach in Houston. Sources say Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta did not — he wanted Jeff Van Gundy — and the compromise was Stephen Silas.
Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
All-Star James Harden wanted out of Houston as soon as the Rockets hired Stephen Silas as coach, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
Early on in the Rockets’ coaching search, management asked for Harden’s input, and Silas, the son of former NBA player and coach Paul Silas, was not among Harden’s top choices, the person told USA TODAY.
Apparently, Harden didn’t see Silas as an acceptable compromise. Nor did Houston retaining Lucas as an assistant placate Harden.
Harden is just difficult to please at this point.
Not that the Rockets have earned the benefit of the doubt. Fertitta’s unwillingness to pay the luxury tax has depleted Houston’s roster during Harden’s prime. The coaching search might have further exposed spending limitations. Did Fertitta really believe Lue wasn’t the best person for the job? Or did Fertitta just not want to out-bid the Clippers? This looks more like the straw that broke the camel’s back than an isolated disagreement for Harden.
Harden might even like Silas once getting to know him.
But them fully working together will be delayed because Harden reported late to training camp, instead partying without a mask. That means at least a six-day quarantine before Harden can join the team.