"Fred is just a better fit" - Controversial coach's remarks reflect why Rockets preferred VanVleet over James Harden reunion

Fred VanVleet and James Harden (Photos: NBA.com)
Fred VanVleet and James Harden (Photos: NBA.com)

Houston Rockets coach Ime Udoka has explained why they signed Fred VanVleet over James Harden this offseason. Udoka, who was a controversial figure during his time with the Boston Celtics, will be in his first season in Houston. He will have the luxury of a young team with a couple of veterans.

In an interview with ESPN's Zach Lowe, Udoka negated the rumor that he was the reason why the Rockets didn't sign Harden. It was all about the fit with players like Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun, and VanVleet was the right man over the former MVP Harden.

"Nothing against James, but Fred is just a better fit," Udoka said. "I coached James in Brooklyn. He's one of the smartest players I've ever been around. The words, 'Ime doesn't want James,' never came out of my mouth. It was, 'Let's look at the best fit.'
"If we want Jalen and the young guys to take the next steps, we need them to have the ball. As for me saying I don't want James, that was never the case. It was about fit."

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It was widely rumored in the last year that James Harden wanted to go back to the Houston Rockets. Harden loves the city, and the team is ready to take the next step. However, the Rockets took a different approach when they hired Ime Udoka as coach this summer.

Udoka replaced Stephe Silas, who had a 59-117 record during his three years with the team. It was a controversial decision to hire Udoka due to his history with the Boston Celtics. He was suspended by the Celtics at the start of last season for violating team policies.

The former NBA player was reportedly in an improper relationship with a Celtics staffer. It was a tough blow for the Celtics back then, as Udoka had led them to their first NBA Finals in 12 years.

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Why is Fred VanVleet a better fit than James Harden?

In terms of greatness and overall career, James Harden is a much better player than Fred VanVleet, who is no slouch either.

VanVleet has one more ring than Harden, but his fit with the Houston Rockets makes sense. He provides offense and defense and is also a capable leader to oversee a young roster.

VanVleet can also play off the ball, which is important for the development of Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun and Amen Thompson. All three young guys will have the ball in their hands at some point in offense, and VanVleet should be ready to shoot, cut or do whatever is necessary for the team.


Meawnhile, Harden is a ball-dominant player who's most effective with the ball in his hands. At this point in his career, he's not going to have the best effort moving without the basketball.

Also Read: "Harden pulling up to the club instead" - NBA fans pull no punches in roasting James Harden as 76ers guard skips media day

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Edited by Juan Paolo David
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