The Houston Rockets’ front-office threw itself in front of a story published Thursday, claiming that All-Star guard James Harden asked the franchise to fire head coach Kevin McHale (done) and trade center Dwight Howard (tried but failed.)

Few players in the NBA have been as assertive as Harden when it comes to franchise-shaping decisions of the highest order. He now plays with Howard in Houston, of course, and the Rockets’ season has been one disappointment after another. After a trip to the Western Conference Finals last season, Houston started the season 4-7 and promptly fired coach Kevin McHale. […] Multiple league sources told CBS Sports that Harden pushed management to dump McHale, and has since angled for the Rockets to trade Howard. Rockets GM Daryl Morey delivered on the first demand, but was unable to find a suitable deal for Howard at the trade deadline this month.

Team CEO Tad Brown denied that Harden made such demands.

Harden and Howard combined for 65 points in Houston’s 119-105 road win last night.

Per ESPN:

“I can tell you unequivocally, being part of that [front-office] team, those things have never happened,” Brown said prior to the Rockets’ 119-105 comeback win over the Portland Trail Blazers. “That’s frustrating, and, for whatever reason, it’s been a constant throughout this season. As we struggle and as we continue to struggle a little bit on the court, trying to get things to where we want them to be, that people have continued to take shots at our guys, take shots at our team, with unnamed sources being the ones who routinely provide that information.”

 

Brown said the front-office dynamic involving any firing goes through owner Leslie Alexander, himself and Morey.

 

Brown denied an NBA.com report stating Howard and Harden asked for each other to be traded two seasons ago after Morey told ESPN the same last week. […] “It’s disappointing and it’s bothersome from the standpoint of, James doesn’t deserve this, Dwight doesn’t deserve,” Brown said. “This, whether it be James coming in demanding to have Dwight traded — there was an article in the last week where supposedly both James and Dwight came to management and they both wanted each other traded — that never happened. Where James supposedly came in and demanded there be a coaching change — that never happened. Dwight came in and said he wanted to be traded — that never happened. These things comes up and take a life of their own.”