The Houston Rockets took domination to new heights this season. After finishing out a 65-win season, in which they routinely blew out the lesser competition, they've stormed their way through the playoffs, beating the highly-stacked Timberwolves in five, and on their way to taking a commanding 2-1 lead over the Jazz as well.
But as as good as things are right now, the Rockets weren't always so perfect.
Back in the Dwight/Harden days, in fact, things got so toxic that one veteran player told a recent new acquisition to "pick his side." Here's Lee Jenkins with the story:
The Rockets considered hiring D’Antoni in 2007, but he was employed by the Suns then, and again in ’11, when he was with the Knicks. After the job reopened in the summer of ’16, they discussed two types of candidates: an emergent coach who could stay for decades or an experienced one who could make the most of Harden’s prime. Back then Houston’s locker room was divided along the fault line separating Harden and Dwight Howard, and factions were so pronounced that one veteran told a new acquisition, “When you come here, you have to pick your side.” The Rockets tabbed D’Antoni to overhaul their offense as well as their atmosphere, and when free agency dawned in July, he was on the plane with team brass.
Crazy to think how different things might be had Houston brought in D'Antoni sooner. There's no guarantee he would've solved all their problems, but he surely would have brought the best out of both players.
Now, with Harden and Dwight long over their days as teammates, each is facing a very different path in their perspective careers. Seems like Harden got the last laugh on this one...