Some fans and pundits believe the Houston Rockets missed their title opportunity last season. Adding to critics' doubt: the Rockets have lost key veteran wings Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute this summer. The chorus of Rockets doubters seems to be reaching a crescendo, but reigning MVP James Harden doesn't seem concerned.
Harden spoke with Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post and said the team certainly hasn't taken a step back this summer. "No," Harden answered. "You can go back to articles and conversations and people said, 'Me and Chris can’t play together.' [Then] we were the No. 1 [team] in the NBA. Obviously, you can look at a roster and look at different players and say that. But you have to be on that court and you've got to be in the trenches and be in the war."
Harden's answer is fair considering how the Rockets surprised so many people last season. It's easy to be a critic in July. "Eventually we will figure it out," Harden answered. "We have enough leadership in that locker room and a great coaching staff to figure that out."
The Rockets, for what it's worth, also managed to bring back a major player, Clint Capela, this summer. And they're widely expected to add Carmelo Anthony. But don't expect this to be the final version of Houston's roster.
"I think teams try too much to just make everything perfect right in July," the team's general manager, Daryl Morey, once said on The Bill Simmons Podcast. "You don't need your best team on July 4th. You need your best team on April 15th. So I like to keep some powder dry."