James Harden Gets Very Honest About Rockets’ Failures, Future

James Harden Gets Very Honest About Rockets’ Failures, Future

James Harden Gets Very Honest About Rockets’ Failures, Future

James Harden and the Houston Rockets were eliminated from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. It was a disappointing conclusion to a season that, at one point, looked like it had a lot of promise.

After the game, Harden got brutally honest about the failures that prematurely ended his year and what was to come.

“I feel like we’re a piece away,” he admitted.

“But you’ve got to keep trying to figure it out, keep trying to grow and put the right pieces around me and [Russell Westbrook] to get to where we want to go.”

Unfortunately, it will be tough for the team to get that missing piece. Harden is on the books for $41.3 million in 2020-21; Westbrook for $41.4 million; and Eric Gordon for $16.9 million.

By 2022-23, those three players will be commanding $114 million combined.

Moreover, Houston is without a pick in this year’s draft and owes its 2024 and 2026 first rounders to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Same with future pick swaps in 2021 and 2025.

For his part, Harden believes the Rockets have something to build on. The former league MVP is optimistic that if his team cleans up on some weaknesses, it can come back stronger next year.

“Before these last few games, we were No. 1 in defense,” he said.

“It was the small things like rebounding. We just weren’t disciplined enough. The Lakers went on runs and it’s deflating when you get stops and they get offensive rebounds.”

Interestingly enough, Harden also pointed to the drama surrounding Danuel House Jr. as a factor in his team’s performance against the Lakers.

“It affected us because obviously it’s a distraction and he’s a huge part of our rotation,” he said.

“You still have to go out there and try to compete and try to win games.”

All in all, this is going to be a big offseason for Houston. The team’s options are limited as far as getting better, and head coach Mike D’Antoni is leaving.

It will be difficult for general manager Daryl Morey to meaningfully upgrade the roster.

More likely is that he will be counting on Westbrook coming back healthier in 2020-21.

The Rockets guard admitted after Game 5 that he was not fully healthy heading into the playoffs.

“It wasn’t 100 percent,” he said.

“I’m not the guy to make excuses. It’s very frustrating. Catching COVID, I had to sit back 21 days without working out… The postseason is when you elevate your game. I was just trying to catch a rhythm.”

The hope will be, obviously, that with a full offseason of rest under his belt Westbrook will come back a different player.

If Harden continues to play at an elite level, Westbrook gets healthy and Houston can sign some veterans on the cheap, this squad can still very much be in the mix at the top of the Western Conference.

Will they be good enough to win it, though? That’s a question they’ll have to answer with their play.

Related: Kyle Kuzma Takes Jab At Austin Rivers After Lakers Win

Jennifer Withers Hoey

Jennifer Withers Hoey is a former Business Development Manager who transitioned to writing about sports. With valuable connections all over the West Coast, she has used those contacts to break some of the most interesting stories pertaining to the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Seattle Supersonics (RIP), and more.

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