When you’re a high-level executive of a multi-million dollar company, damage control is part of your near-everyday responsibilities. It can be internal, dealing with conflict between employees, or it can be external, downplaying or outright denying a story that leaked to the media.
Tad Brown, the CEO of the Houston Rockets, is currently in full damage-control mode after a report that James Harden pushed to have Kevin McHale fired and Dwight Howard traded. Brown, unsurprisingly, told ESPN’s Calvin Watkins that such demands never occurred.
“I can tell you unequivocally, being part of that [front-office] team, those things have never happened,” Brown said prior to the Rockets’ 119-105 comeback win over the Portland Trail Blazers. “That’s frustrating, and, for whatever reason, it’s been a constant throughout this season. As we struggle and as we continue to struggle a little bit on the court, trying to get things to where we want them to be, that people have continued to take shots at our guys, take shots at our team, with unnamed sources being the ones who routinely provide that information.”
“It’s disappointing and it’s bothersome from the standpoint of, James doesn’t deserve this, Dwight doesn’t deserve,” Brown said. “This, whether it be James coming in demanding to have Dwight traded — there was an article in the last week where supposedly both James and Dwight came to management and they both wanted each other traded — that never happened.
Of course the Rockets are going to deny this – any team would. However, that the Rockets had Brown, and not general manager Daryl Morey, deny the rumors maybe lends a bit more credence to that denial.
The Rockets’ on-court chemistry could probably dissolve metal, but maybe that doesn’t necessarily mean Harden and Howard pushed for the other to be traded. Then again, CBS Sports’ Ken Berger, who initially reported the story, isn’t some hack, and it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing in the world to learn that a teammate was sick of Howard.
In the end, until one of the two stars writes a tell-all, we’ll never truly know the entire story. What we do know is that the Rockets have both underperformed and failed to click on the court this year, a combination which will always lead to finger-pointing and potential drastic changes.