Despite getting a nice win over the Blazers and a superstar performance out of James Harden last night, the 29-29 Houston Rockets are still in a bad place. They failed to trade Dwight Howard, the one deadline deal they did pull off fell apart because of a failed physical, and now it’s been reported that James Harden is an even bigger malcontent than previously assumed.

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Yesterday, CBS Sports’ Ken Berger reported that Harden pushed for head coach Kevin McHale’s firing early in the season, and also demanded that Howard be traded away at the deadline. A source told Berger that Harden’s alleged back-channeling is “really bad for the locker room dynamic.” Berger’s report comes on the heels of an NBA.com story claiming that both Howard and Harden had previously gone to management to ask that the other be traded.

That bring us to Rockets CEO Tad Brown holding a surprise session with reporters before last night’s game, in which he specifically and vehemently denied these reports. Via ESPN:

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“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. Where James supposedly came in and demanded there be a coaching change — that never happened. Dwight came in and said he wanted to be traded — that never happened. These things comes up and take a life of their own.”

It’s pretty rare to see a team executive address negative reports in such a head-on fashion, and the fact that Brown felt the need to do so last night speaks to just how bad things have gotten in Houston.

It doesn’t really matter if the reports about Harden and Howard are true, though. Harden did get McHale fired, if not by specific request then by being out of shape and playing remarkably disinterested basketball at the start of the season. Harden forced the Rockets to start shopping Howard, too, if not by demand then by failing to create an effective partnership with the big man. How the Rockets became a disaster doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they are one, and nothing Tad Brown says can change that.

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Photo via AP

[CBS | ESPN]


Contact the author at ley@deadspin.com.