It’s been a wildly disappointing season for the Houston Rockets. Just a year ago, they made a spectacular run all the way to the Western Conference Finals. Now, they’re fighting for their playoff lives, and a postseason berth is still very much in jeopardy despite a sorely-needed win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.
Regardless of how this season plays out, the franchise is likely to be in flux this summer. It’s highly doubtful that the front office would want to retain the increasingly-disgruntled Dwight Howard, or that he’d even want to say in Houston to begin with given the way he’s been marginalized in the Rockets’ offense.
That’s a reality that will help free up cap space to go after the biggest 2016 free agent of them all: Kevin Durant. The organization has made no secret about wanting to land Durant, and it’s looking more and more like a certain former teammate of his will play a pivotal role in that endeavor.
The Rockets’ best player and leading scorer will become the main recruiter this summer in the franchise’s quest to sign Kevin Durant, whom Harden played with for three seasons in Oklahoma City.
The Rockets front office has talked to Harden about recruiting, and Harden is ready to play his part.
“In order to put yourself as an elite team, you always got to have talent, right?” Harden said while not addressing Durant specifically. “You always got to get better and find ways to improve. That’s any team.”
The inscrutable Durant hasn’t given much hint about his intentions this summer, though it’s widely believed that the incumbent Thunder remain the front-runners to re-sign him, with his hometown Washington Wizards coming in at a distant second.
The Rockets seem like a long-shot at this point, but crazier things have certainly happened in free agency, and an opportunity to reunite with a former teammate and close friend should provide some temptation. But the way the Rockets are currently constructed, Durant alone won’t tip the scales in terms of their championship aspirations.