According to Shams Charania’s sources, Nelson made his decision despite a push from Howard to join the Rockets:
Jameer Nelson balanced finances and winning in free agency. Dwight Howard made multiple calls recruiting Nelson to Houston, sources say.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 24, 2014
You might remember Howard sent some shots towards his teammates after he was traded by the Orlando Magic. Reflecting on his time in Orlando, Howard talked about his frustrations with being the leader:
“My team in Orlando was a team full of people who nobody wanted, and I was the leader and I led that team with a smile on my face.”
Nelson heard those comments and fired back:
“At some point, when are you gonna, as a man, when are you going to take ownership and stay out of the media in a professional manner?” Nelson said of Howard.
“I would be less of a man to comment on certain things that people comment on about me and my teammates. We had a great run as a group, as core guys, and he was a part of it (reaching the 2009 NBA Finals) and for him to say things about anybody in a negative manner, that’s up to him.
“That’s his opinion. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels.”
This exchange happened in 2013, so perhaps it’s now just water under the bridge for the two. It would be a reach to say Nelson chose Dallas over Houston because of those comments. The Mavericks have arguably as strong as team as the Rockets, so that must have factored into his decision as well.
But it’s interesting to remember those comments Howard made, because it’s very similar to what was said this week about Chandler Parsons. Howard came out and said the Rockets wouldn’t miss Parsons this year. James Harden echoed those sentiments by calling himself and Howard the cornerstones of the franchise, calling everyone else role players.
These are strong words, and perhaps there’s some truth to what Howard and Harden are saying. But they also feel empty coming from two players who’ve had very little team success in recent years. Since being traded to Houston, Harden has lost in the first round of the playoffs twice. As for Howard, he hasn’t won a playoff series since the 2009-10 season.
It’s one thing for someone with an established track record like LeBron James or Kobe Bryant to come out and say these things. But when the two leaders of your team are setting the tone in public by degrading their teammates and demonstrating a level of confidence not backed by any recent results, it doesn’t look good.
Players should want to team up with Harden and Howard; they’re two very talented players. But that doesn’t appear to be the case, at least judging from this past summer. There were many reasons why players like Carmelo Anthony, LeBron and Chris Bosh didn’t give serious thought to joining the Rockets this year. The Rockets couldn’t offer the same amount of money as ‘Melo and Bosh received from New York and Miami; LeBron just wanted to go home.
But until Harden and Howard can deliver results on the floor, and not just fighting words off of it, the questions will remain as to whether other players really want to play with them. After all, money and the comforts of home aside, players also want to feel like they’re part of a winning environment.
What do you think?
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