James Harden says he has ‘no beef’ with Dwight Howard
James Harden and Dwight Howard will compete as opponents for the first time on Saturday night since the latter left the Houston Rockets to join the Atlanta Hawks in free agency. Despite reports that the relationship between the two was dysfunctional at best and toxic at worst, Harden insists he has “no beef” with Howard.
“Yeah we’re cool,” Harden said of Howard, via ESPN’s Calvin Watkins.
As was the case on Thursday when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook faced one another for the first time, there’s a lot of attention of Saturday’s tilt pitting Harden against Howard. But despite all the rumors of a frigidness between the two, Harden insists that was not the case.
“It didn’t bother me. I know what the truth is, it’s no beef,” Harden said. “We never got into a heated argument. It just didn’t work out.”
Harden’s comments echo what Howard said last March about having “no hate in my blood” for Harden.
The Rockets did make three appearances in the postseason with Howard and Harden, reaching the Western Conference Finals once and were bounced in the first round two other times, including last season following a disappointing 41-41 season.
There were whispers last season that Harden worked behind the scenes to get Howard traded. Whether or not that is true, Harden did praise the Rockets’ “vibe” this season, which would seem to be a commentary on Howard’s absence. But Harden insists the improved “vibe” is attributable to better offseason preparation.
“That’s one of the reasons why we had training camp twice in the summer so they can get comfortable quick and then when we came to training camp at the beginning of the season, guys will be playing a lot better,” he said. “That’s the reason for that.”
Whatever the case, Harden, who took on the point guard position this season, seems to be flourishing in Howard’s absence, averaging 31.8 points and 12.4 assists per game while leading the Rockets to a 3-2 record.
Howard seems happy to be playing with his hometown Hawks and Harden seems to be happy in Houston. So all’s well that ends well, apparently.