James Harden has simplified his life this season, no longer dating Khloe Kardashian, no longer playing beside Dwight Howard and playing point guard under Mike D'Antoni.

Harden trained at Arizona State in the offseason with longtime sports performance director Rich Wenner, who had introduced him to the Stairmaster as a smooth-faced freshman at Arizona State, and he did skills work with development coach Irving Roland, whom he met at the LeBron James Skills Academy a year later. “I need to get back to what I used to do,” Harden told them.

“I think he wanted to take his fame out for a spin,” says a Rockets source, “and I think he decided he liked it better in the garage.” 

“Ninety percent of teams in this league don’t have any alignment at all between the front office, the coaching staff and the players,” says one NBA head coach. “You looked at this team last year and they were all f----- up. You look at them now and they are completely aligned. James Harden has become Steve Nash—if Steve Nash were on steroids.”

Harden also signed a four-year, $118 million extension with the Rockets in July 2016, which will move back his free agency beyond his initially scheduled 2018.