The Spurs wrapped up the truncated preseason with two games in Houston. This gave the Silver & Black the opportunity to get a glance at the new-look Rockets. They have shed Russell Westbrook in a trade for John Wall. DeMarcus Cousins has also set up camp in H-Town. Even Christian Wood (who led the Rockets last night with twenty-seven points) had Sean Elliott cooing at the trade that seems to favor Houston.
But no conversation seems to be loading Twitter more than James Harden’s additional pounds procured in the offseason. As part of a storyline developing in which the 2018 MVP wants a trade out of Houston, his return to training camp out of shape is not boding well for fans or pundits.
In some ways, the weight gain is reminiscent of when Axl Rose came out of a self-exile in 2002 and made his first major national television appearance in quite some time.
Conan O’Brien famously spoofed the episode in his “In the Year 2000” series (see 3:11 mark)
By comparison, the Houston Rockets should be forced to change their name to the Chubs McGruder and the guys who didn’t make the Finals.
Beyond James’ offseason semantics, the major story will continue to be where he ends up if a trade can be made. Much like the Kawhi situation the Spurs faced two seasons ago, Harden has requested a contender and may make his liking or disliking for a locale apparent, thus lowering his trade value.
He did turn down a historic $50M last month possibly proving his desire to win a title is greater than a need for greed. James is on the wrong side of 30 and continually shown that he cannot lead a team to an NBA Championship. Much like Anthony Davis, a pairing with a tried-and-true champion may be what Harden is looking for to push him into ring contention this season.
What do you think Pounders — will Harden get the trade he needs? Can the Rockets make a championship run in a shortened season with their offseason acquisitions? Or is Harden bound to be this decade’s Charles Barkley?
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