James Harden helped influence Rockets’ decision to trade for Lou Williams
Williams is a dynamic scorer and has fit seamlessly with the Rockets, averaging 14.5 points on 39.2 percent shooting and 36.8 percent from three in the 13 games he’s been with Houston this season. While Williams is part of Houston’s plan to out shoot opponents with a barrage of three-pointers, the Rockets may have traded for the veteran scorer because of the efforts of James Harden.
According to Williams, Harden called him weeks before the trade deadline and asked if he would like to play for Houston. Once Williams expressed interest, Harden said he was going to make it happen.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
“It wasn’t awkward for me with the changes going on in L.A. because I’ve understood the business,” Williams told The Vertical. “I remember the first day I joined the Rockets, I came into the breakfast room and [coach] Mike [D’Antoni] asked me if I would be able to play tonight if they needed me to, and I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘All right, be yourself.’ He said don’t think about anything, just play. That’s all I needed to hear.”
Harden knowing that Williams would be a good fit is not that surprising. The Rockets score and that’s basically all Williams does, so naturally he would be a great fit.
But while this also points to some clear rule breaking by tampering on Harden’s part, it is also interesting to see how he’s stepped up and embraced his role as a leader on the Rockets this season. In past years, Harden seemed more accustomed to be a leader just on the court, but now he’s actually forming bonds with his teammates and even doing some recruiting to boot.
You have to give credit to Harden for this new version of himself. He is now a top MVP candidate and clearly owning being the face of the franchise in Houston. If the Rockets have an extended postseason run, it will likely all be because of Harden.