4th and a mile with Paul Muth

Here's how James Harden may have sealed the Rockets' fate

This could get ugly. Photo by Getty Images.

Another day, another domino falls in the saga that the Rockets' off-season has unexpectedly devolved into.

Earlier this week the Rockets looked to be making forward progress toward the recently agreed upon December start date. Former head coach and Jazz player Jeff Hornacek, along with Orlando Magic assistant Rick Higgins were announced as top assistants to aid first year head coach Stephen Silas as he takes over court side for the recently departed Mike D'Antoni.

Former Rocket Vernon Maxwell had an interesting take on the Hornacek hire:

Maxwell remains undefeated on Twitter against Utah. But I digress.

The Rockets had made another move the week before in retaining Rockets assistant John Lucas. This was considered a win by most, since Lucas was nominated and backed by Rockets superstar James Harden as a candidate for the head coaching position once it became available. While he was ultimately passed over for Silas, it looked like retaining Lucas to appease Harden and the locker room was a savvy move.

Not savvy enough, apparently. According to ESPN, Harden and Westbrook have lost confidence in the Rockets front office, and they have plenty of reasons to.

The NBA is a star driven league. There aren't many true game altering superstars in the league, and the ones that are know their worth. If your team is lucky enough to have one, that talent comes with the understanding that they can have leverage on team building if they choose to. As a result, it's imperative to keep those stars happy and confident that the team is doing everything they can to win.

Losing D'Antoni was a hit most expected was coming. A head coaching change on its own is something that can be, and has been weathered by Harden before. Most teams in serious contention typically chase after coaches with pedigree, however. It's a very clear way to signal to your team that you mean business, and expect to win. The Rockets, however, chose a rookie head coach. Still, these are issues that on their own can be worked around.

Losing general manager Daryl Morey on top of that, however, is cause for concern. Even then, if a comparable replacement is sought after, you're signaling a commitment to winning. The Rockets chose to forego that route as well, opting instead to hire a rookie GM from within.

Unproven GM. Unproven coach. An owner that has shown an extreme reluctance to spend. It's hard to fault 31-year-old Harden for growing skeptical.

The problem isn't that he's skeptical of the team's ability to win. The problem is that the publicization of his skepticism all but guarantees it.

This is essentially a flare shot up from Harden's camp that something needs to be done to ensure that the Rockets remain competitive. The front office has from now until the season begins on December 22nd to make something happen.

They have no cap room. They have no draft picks. They have very few tradable assets. Their owner looks disinterested in spending into the luxury tax. The Rockets are up against the wall to make a move, but a move isn't really there to be made.

These were issues that were already established. What now needs to be taken into consideration is how quickly Harden's comments may have soured potential free agents.

We see instances every offseason of free agents taking pay cuts to play with superstars if there is a chance of contending. This scenario is the only possible way that the Rockets could bring in a quality free agent considering how strapped they are financially at the moment. Those instances, however, require one very key component:

The superstar.

If you can't guarantee that Harden will even be in Houston after the trade deadline, why would anyone take a pay cut to come here?

By Harden questioning his confidence in the Rockets, he eliminated any guarantee that he would be on the roster by the end of the season, and simultaneously rendered the Rockets' free agent pool that much more shallow.

It's a situation that could quite possibly be cleared up with a sit down or a strong start to the season. I have no reason to believe the Rockets would move Harden before the season starts. But if the reports are true, and Houston finds themselves forced to move one of the top 5 best players in the league, it would mark a sad end to what was an exciting chapter in Rockets history.

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Reagan and Alex Bregman welcomed little Knox on August 2. Photo by Priscilla Dickson.

A Houston power couple have just welcomed their first child. Houston Astros star Alex Bregman and his wife, entrepreneur Reagan, announced the birth of their son, Knox Samuel Bregman on Tuesday, August 2.

The Bregmans posted a photo of a quite cozy little Knox — looking warm in a knit beanie and blanket — on Instagram with a simple caption revealing his name. Thousands of well-wishing comments to the couple, who married in 2020, range from Knox’s doting grandmother Laurice Howard to Astros pitcher José Urquidy, who cheered his teammate with, “Congrats Brrrrregybomm!!!”

Little Knox arrives just a day after his father Alex Bregman was scratched from the Astros’ game against the Red Sox on Monday, August 1 and listed as multi-day paternity leave. Soon, Twitter exploded with reports that Reagan Bregman was in labor, and the watch began. News of Knox’s birth was first announced during the broadcast of Monday’s Astros/Red Sox game.

A savvy entrepreneur and mastermind behind the socially conscious athleisure line Exiza, Reagan Bregman has been a popular presence on social media, not only for her empowering posts, but also for her regular pregnancy updates and even shopping tips.

“Overall, I’m feeling pretty good,” she told CultureMap exclusively when the couple announced Samuel in February. “Some days, I’m extremely tired, but now that I’m in my second trimester I feel some energy coming back. I am still running Exiza day to day and we have so many new and exciting additions we are making to the line. I am very lucky I get to work from home though, because some days all I want to do is nap.”

Since then, she has launched a new line of Exiza called Breaking Barriers, which she told CultureMap she’ll get back to running as soon as she’s able.

Alex Bregman, meanwhile, is in fine form this summer, a promising sign for an Astros postseason run. After returning from major injuries including a broken hand last season, the slugger who boasts 13 Breggy Bombs (home runs) this year.

The All Star will play the Red Sox tonight (August 2). Win or lose, Bregman is already guaranteed an unforgettable, grand slam night.

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