Regardless of Dwight Howard’s future in Houston, whether he stays or goes, the Rockets are going to have a tough time attracting free agents and, potentially, a head coach.

“This isn’t a desirable destination, and a lot of it, I think, is because of (James) Harden,” Sports Radio 610 host Ted Johnson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “You look at Russell Westbrook. He’s got his flaws. He can make some bad decisions. But he wants to win so bad. Steph Curry wants to win so bad. LeBron James (and) Chris Paul (want to win so bad). James Harden wants to just get his. It’s not about winning championships, in my opinion, with James Harden. It’s more about just getting his. So it starts with him. What they need is somebody he respects and he will listen to, and I think you got to get a player in here who’s an accomplished player that James can work with and will actually respect. But here’s the thing: I don’t think free agents want to go down there. Nobody wants to go play with Dwight Howard. None of these guys. Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant – they think he’s a punk. They don’t want to play with him. So I think big-time free agents don’t want to play in Houston. That’s a big problem.”

Harden averaged 29.0 points per game this season, which was second only to Steph Curry (30.1). He also shot 35.9 percent from three and 86.0 percent from the foul line.

That’s all great stuff.

But the guy doesn’t play defense.


“That’s the problem,” Johnson said. “The younger guys on the team see him slacking on defense, so they do the same thing. It just permeates throughout the whole team. He’s very disinterested. You can say he plays more minutes than anybody in the NBA. Yeah, so what? Honestly, they’re not efficient minutes and he doesn’t give it on both ends. You’ve got to be a complete player like a Kawhi Leonard, like a Jimmy Butler – just guys that play on both ends. Guys respect that. It’s all about defense. If you’re going to win championships, you’ve got to be a top 10 defense and it all starts with their leader. Their leader is James Harden. That is the alpha dog on this team. When he doesn’t want to play defense, none of the rest of the guys want to play defense, either.”


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