Southwest Notes: Harden, Durant, Howard, Spurs

James Harden will play a key role in the Rockets‘ efforts to bring Kevin Durant to Houston, writes Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. Many teams will be chasing Durant in free agency, but the Rockets have several selling points. In addition to reuniting with his friend and former Thunder teammate, Durant will have the chance to go a state with no income tax and a large city with vast marketing opportunities. Watkins says the Rockets have talked to Harden about recruiting Durant and he has agreed to do his part. “In order to put yourself as an elite team, you always got to have talent, right?” Harden said. “You always got to get better and find ways to improve.” Houston will have plenty of cap space if Dwight Howard opts out as expected.

There’s more news from the Southwest Division:

  • Howard’s role in the Rockets‘ offense continues to decline, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Howard has averaged 9.3 points on 5.8 field goal attempts over Houston’s last 12 games. It’s a significant dropoff from earlier in the season and has led many to speculate that the 30-year-old center will seek a new team in free agency. “His impact can be felt more and should be felt more,” said interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “… We have to get him the ball in his spots and he has to finish when he gets there.”
  • Free agent addition LaMarcus Aldridge has teamed with Kawhi Leonard to become the nucleus of a record-setting Spurs team, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. The two All-Stars have eased the burden on the aging Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. San Antonio picked up a franchise record 64th win Saturday and is two victories away from posting the first perfect home record in league history. “There’s not much we’re allowed to care about,” Danny Green said. “… Being healthy and winning games in the playoffs – those are the things we care about.”
  • James Ennis had little time to prepare for his first game with the Pelicans after being called up from the D-League this week, relays Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com. “He just got here to the arena about 20 minutes ago,” coach Alvin Gentry said before Wednesday’s contest with the Spurs. “We’ll give him a quick overview of what we try to do, but he’ll definitely be in the game tonight.”

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