The Houston Rockets have been trying to replicate the model of the three-star super team for a couple of seasons now. For years Daryl Morey fielded a competitive team that was in search of multiple superstars to lead his team. He acquired James Harden in a trade a couple of years ago, and followed that up with signing Dwight Howard last summer. He was in pursuit of a third star this summer but it never came to fruition. What did come about was the perception that Morey doesn't treat players like players and treats them more like commodities.
It's led to this perception that if you're not a star then you're not very important to Morey. Whether that's fair or not, it has been the talk surrounding the team since they decided not to match Chandler Parsons' offer sheet with the Mavericks and he took it a bit personally. The Philippine Star has quotes from Harden in which he says he and Dwight are the cornerstones and the rest of the players are "role players." This isn't going to help with that perception about the organization.
As for the Rockets' future, Harden said he's not worried that Jeremy Lin has left for the Los Angeles Lakers and Chandler Parsons for the Dallas Mavericks. “Dwight (Howard) and I are the cornerstones of the Rockets,” said Harden. “The rest of the guys are role players or pieces that complete our team. We've lost some pieces and added some pieces. I think we'll be fine next season.”
Here's the thing about what Harden is saying here: he's not wrong. The franchise of the team is the duo of Harden and Howard. Morey was hoping to add to that foundation with someone like Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh this summer but it never happened. Nobody else on that roster -- whether it's newly signed Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Patrick Beverley, Isaiah Canaan, or anybody else -- fits the criteria of being a star or a cornerstone for the Rockets.
The question isn't whether or not Harden is correct; it's should he be saying this type of thing at all? It's very possible the context here is muddled and Harden's words weren't as harsh as they come across in print. Perhaps, it's Harden trying to reassure fans that the two best players are still on the team and they can be confident the team's play won't suffer. But this is an organization already under a little bit of fire for not treating the "other players" like they matter, so a comment like this doesn't seem to help that.
The Rockets will be fine next season. In their first season with adding a major piece to the puzzle, they won 54 games and finished with the 4-seed in the West. They've lost some pieces in Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, and Omer Asik, but they've also developed Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Isaiah Canaan, and added Ariza. The role players surrounding the dynamic Houston duo will be different, but Harden is correct that they'll be fine.