All-star guard James Harden believes the Rockets boosted their chances to win a title by adding free agents Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright, relays Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. Both signed with Houston this week after reaching buyout agreements, adding depth to a roster that has the league’s best record at the break.
“Those are experienced vets who both have playoff experience,” Harden said. “And we all want to win – that’s what everyone on this roster has in common. We have a roster full of guys who are hungry and ready to compete at a high level. We have really good depth now. We have a roster of guys, from top to bottom, who can step in and really get the job done. That’s exciting, and it also means everyone’s minutes should go down, but our productivity [as a whole] should go up.”
He also addressed the compatibility concerns that were raised after the trade for Chris Paul last summer. Harden said he and Paul both adopted a team-first attitude that made blending their talents an easy transition.
There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:
- After a lifetime in basketball, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has found the perfect team to fit his style, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. D’Antoni, an All-Star coach for the second time in his career, was happy as associate head coach in Philadelphia until Rockets owner Leslie Alexander offered him a job in the summer of 2016. Houston has given D’Antoni a roster filled with shooters to complement his philosophy on offense. “Some people accused me of being stubborn all those years I didn’t change,” he said. “I didn’t think I was being stubborn. I thought that was the way to do it. Why should I change if I know it’s the right thing to do?”
- Returning to the All-Star Game after a one-year absence, LaMarcus Aldridge no longer feels out of place in San Antonio, according to Tom Orborne of The San Antonio Express-News. An offseason trade request led to a heart-to-heart talk with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and sparked a resurgence in Aldridge, who has increased his scoring average by five points per game and is topping 20 PPG for the first time since leaving Portland. “The Spurs have kind of learned who I am as a person and have let me be me,” Aldridge said. “They had Tim [Duncan], who was an introvert, kind of a private person, so now they understand me better.”
- Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he laughs any time another team brings up Dirk Nowitzki in a trade proposal, relays Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report. Nowitzki adds that Kobe Bryant once tried to convince him to sign with the Lakers, but he never seriously considered leaving Dallas.