Eric Gordon

James Harden Out At Least Two Weeks

Rockets star guard James Harden will be sidelined at least two weeks with a Grade 2 hamstring strain, the club announced in a press release.

Harden suffered the injury on Sunday in a 148-142 double-overtime victory against the Lakers in which Harden posted 40 points and 11 assists. The release said Harden will be re-evaluated after the two-week period, which suggests he could require another week or more to get back in action.

Harden is enjoying another stellar season, averaging 32.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 9.1 APG. The Rockets snapped a five-game losing streak on Sunday and they are now two games behind the Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference. Harden’s injury naturally decreases their chances of regaining the top spot.

In his absence, Eric Gordon and Chris Paul will have to take a bigger share of the scoring load. It also means an increased role for recently-signed Gerald Green.

Rockets Pursuing Paul George, Carmelo Anthony?

The Rockets’ acquisition of Chris Paul is now official, but the team may not be done dealing yet. According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link), a source tells him that the Rockets “think they are getting” Paul George or Carmelo Anthony.

Houston has been mentioned several times as a possible landing spot for George, who has made it clear he wants to leave Indiana. However, it remains to be seen whether the Rockets have enough assets to outbid rival suitors for George. Houston parted with young players (Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell), affordable veterans (Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley), and their 2018 first-round pick in today’s Paul trade. That doesn’t leave a ton of trade chips to offer the Pacers — a team like the Celtics would certainly be able to outbid Houston if they go all-in for George.

Still, the Rockets have shown in the past that they’re willing to be aggressive in trade talks for stars, even without a long-term commitment from that player. And according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, Houston would have “no qualms” about trading for George with one season left on his contract.

Although George’s preference is to sign with the Lakers in 2018, Sam Amick of USA Today writes that the Pacers forward “won’t close a window of opportunity.” According to Amick, if George were traded to the Cavaliers, he’d be open to the idea of re-signing with Cleveland in ’18 if LeBron James sticks around. If the Rockets were to acquire George, perhaps the team could pitch him on a multiyear run with Paul and James Harden.

As for Anthony, Ian Begley of notes (via Twitter) that Paul was telling people a few days ago he’d like to play with Carmelo. Anthony’s situation is up in the air, particularly with Phil Jackson no longer in the picture in New York, but sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link) that if the Knicks do decide to part with the standout forward, they still intend to trade him rather than buy him out.

If the Rockets were to trade for George or Anthony, they’d have to send out a sizable contract in the deal. Ryan Anderson ($19,578,455 salary in 2017/18) is the most obvious trade candidate on the roster, but Indiana native Eric Gordon ($12,943,020 salary in ’17/18) could be an interesting option in talks with the Pacers.

Eric Gordon Wins Sixth Man Award

Rockets guard Eric Gordon was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year, which was announced on TNT’s awards show Monday night.

Gordon averaged 16.2 PPG and 2.5 APG in 75 games for one of the league’s most potent attacks. The oft-injured Gordon never appeared in more than 64 games in his five seasons with the Pelicans franchise before signing with Houston last summer as a free agent.

Teammate Lou Williams and the Warriors’ Andre Iguodala were the other finalists. Only one member of the Hoops Rumors staff chose Gordon as his top pick.

NBA Reveals Award Finalists

The NBA is in the process of revealing its finalists for each of the major year-end awards on TNT, the winners of which will be announced at the official award show on June 26.

Below is an ongoing list that we’ll update as the NBA on TNT crew reveals more.

Most Improved Player of the Year
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Rudy Gobert
Nikola Jokic

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MIP

Sixth Man of the Year
Eric Gordon
Andre Iguodala
Lou Williams

Hoops Rumors Analysis: Sixth Man

Rookie of the Year
Malcolm Brogdon
Joel Embiid
Dario Saric

Hoops Rumors Analysis: ROY

Coach of the Year
Mike D’Antoni
Gregg Popovich
Erik Spoelstra

Hoops Rumors Analysis: COTY

Defensive Player of the Year
Rudy Gobert
Draymond Green
Kawhi Leonard

Hoops Rumors Analysis: DPOY

Most Valuable Player of the Year
James Harden
Kawhi Leonard
Russell Westbrook

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MVP

Southwest Notes: Lowry, Ferrell, Rockets, Mills

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry likely tops the Mavs’ list of point guards on the free agent market, according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. Lowry confirmed after the Raptors were eliminated by the Cavaliers in the playoffs that he would opt of his contract. A solid, experienced point guard would be preferable to drafting one next month, Sefko continues, even though the team is undergoing a youth movement. Jeff Teague and Jrue Holiday are also potential targets during the offseason, Sefko adds.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • Yogi Ferrell will remain on the roster unless the Mavs get lucky in free agency and have a shot at either Stephen Curry or Chris Paul, Sefko writes in a separate mailbag. In that scenario, Dallas would have to clear as much cap space as possible. Otherwise, the coaching staff believes that Ferrell can turn into a sparkplug in the mold of J.J. Barea, Sefko continues. Veteran guard Devin Harris would be the first player let go if the Mavericks need to clear cap space, Sefko adds. Harris’ $4.4MM contract for next season is not guaranteed.
  • Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni will likely stick with smaller lineups and force the Spurs to adjust in the wake of Nene Hilario‘s season-ending injury, Sam Amick of USA Today reports. With Nene suffering a groin tear in Game 4, the Rockets downsized and buried the Spurs with a flurry of 3-pointers. It’s a good bet that forward Ryan Anderson will be replaced in the starting lineup by guard Eric Gordon, a strategy D’Antoni employed in the second half on Sunday.
  • Unrestricted free agent point guard Patty Mills could enjoy a big payday this summer, according to Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News. Tony Parker‘s serious quad injury could make Mills the Spurs’ top priority this offseason. They own his Bird rights and can thus offer Mills more than any other team, Finger points out. Mills provides scoring and energy off the bench, as Manu Ginobili has delivered for so many years, Finger adds.

Rockets Notes: Gordon, Zhou, Anderson

James Harden and Trevor Ariza were both heavily involved in recruiting Eric Gordon, as the shooting guard writes for The Players’ Tribune. Both players called Gordon nearly every day leading up to free agency, explaining to him that he was the missing piece while talking about how unstoppable the offense would be and how successful the Rockets could be in the postseason if he decided to come to Houston. Gordon ended up signing a four-year. $53MM deal with the team last summer.

Here’s more from Houston as the team gets ready for its round two matchup with the Spurs:

  • Gordon said that neither Harden nor Ariza had mentioned coming off the bench during any of their offseason phones calls, Gordon writes in the same piece. That revelation came 11 games into this season when coach Mike D’Antoni told him that he would come off the bench.  “Bam. No leading into the conversation. No softening the blow. Just like that, I’d lost my starting spot,” Gordon writes.  The shooting guard has embraced his role off the bench and he’s a top candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
  • Zhou Qi, who was the No. 43 overall pick in the 2016 draft, will begin training with the Rockets with the hope of joining the NBA club next season, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays. “We are looking forward to sitting down and talking and seeing what might happen in the future. His dream is to one day play in the NBA. Right now, we are focused on training,” Zhou’s agent said.
  • Ryan Anderson, who signed a four-year, $80MM deal with the Rockets last offseason, is excited to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2009/10 season, as Feigen writes in a separate piece“Series one went by quick. This season went by quick. But it feels like this group has been together a whole lot longer than it had because we enjoy being around each other. It’s been a fun year,” Anderson said.

Western Notes: Ginobili, Malone, Anderson

Manu Ginobili has not yet made a decision on whether or not he will play during the 2017/18 season, but nothing that happens during this year’s playoff run with the Spurs will impact his choice, Jeff McDonald of Spurs Nation relays.

“I’m not going to say it’s irrelevant, but pretty close,” Ginobili said. “Winning or not winning is not going to change what I decide to do in the future.”

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Nuggets should afford coach Mike Malone at least one more season to get the team into the playoffs, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post opines. The scribe acknowledges that Malone had a role in Jusuf Nurkic not reaching his potential on the team, but adds that the coach deserves credit for the development of Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, and Jamal Murray.
  • Ryan Anderson, who signed with the Rockets last summer, believes the team’s chemistry is a major reason why Houston has been able to have success this season, Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle writes. “Chemistry goes a long way in this league, and it’s very rare to play on a team where everybody really enjoys their time together,” Anderson said. “Everybody is a piece of a puzzle, and it feels good to come to a team where you know you’re making a difference, and you’re having fun along the way.”
  • Free agent acquisition Eric Gordon enjoys being on the Rockets. He believes that he’s a much better fit in Houston than he was on his previous team in New Orleans, as he tells Zwerneman (same piece). “This team has better chemistry and probably better players,” Gordon said of the Rockets.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Gordon, Morey

While the pre-All-Star Game wave of speculation that DeMarcus Cousins could be headed to New Orleans appears to have subsided, the Pelicans are serious about acquiring an impact player. According to Sam Amico of Amico Hoops, Pels general manager Dell Demps and company have put together a “really nice package in search of a star.” The scribe goes on to add that his source admires the team’s aggressiveness.

Just 2.5 games out of the Western Conference’s eight-seed, the Pelicans are looking to support 23-year-old superstar Anthony Davis. Earlier this month it appeared as though the club was simply looking to add a center and were willing to dangle a 2018 first-round pick to get it. One name that surfaced as a possible fit was Sixers‘ sophomore Jahlil Okafor. While nothing transpired there, that doesn’t mean the club has stopped looking.

In fact, as we mentioned in the report on the rumored Cousins to New Orleans deal, ESPN’s Justin Verrier has linked the Pelicans to not only Cousins but to Pacers star Paul George as well.

All of the speculation amounts to little at this stage in the game but the wave of reports do indicate that the club is serious about making a move. If Amico’s source is to be trusted, they may well find a partner before the February 23 trade deadline.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • One of the names linked to the Pelicans this month has been Jahlil Okafor, but the Sixers big man doesn’t take it to heart. “I’ve said it before I’ll worry about what I can control and the rumors are going to continue to come out. And as far as I know I’m still a Sixer and I’m happy to be a Sixer,” Okafor tells Amos Morale III of the Times-Picayune.
  • Before winning the 2017 Three-Point Contest, Rockets guard Eric Gordon spoke about his time in New Orleans, referring to the Pelicans franchise as “dysfunctional”. “My role changed a lot,” he told Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune. “If I would have had the same freedom that I had (in Houston), it would have been a different result. It’s always been a little dysfunctional, not just for me… everybody.”
  • Daryl Morey and the Rockets are content with their roster, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, and have no desire to make a drastic move at the deadline. They would, however, be open to adding to their bench.

Southwest Notes: P. Jackson, Curry, Gordon, Carter

The Mavericks admit that bad luck led to guard Pierre Jackson being released on the third day of his second 10-day contract, writes Earl K. Sneed of The Star-Telegram. Jackson strained his left hamstring Thursday during his first career start and had to leave the game in the second quarter. With Jackson facing a prolonged absence, Dallas elected to waive him Saturday and sign Yogi Ferrell. “This is one of the things when you are a minor league player there are challenging things that come at you all the time, and he’s fought off a lot of them,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. “He fought off an Achilles tear, he’s fought off some other things. This is just another thing he’s going to have to get through, and then he’s going to be right there again.’’

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Free agent addition Seth Curry has been a pleasant surprise by doing more than scoring for the Mavericks, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Curry, who is averaging 10.8 points through 42 games, has also become an effective player on the defensive end.
  • While James Harden continues to post MVP-level numbers, the Rockets‘ success will be determined by the collection of players GM Daryl Morey has assembled around him, writes Paul Flannery of SB Nation. One of the offseason additions was shooting guard Eric Gordon, who has emerged as a contender of Sixth Man of the Year honors. Morey has been pursuing Gordon since 2012, when he signed with the Suns as a restricted free agent and the offer was matched by the Pelicans. Morey made repeated trade offers to New Orleans before signing Gordon as a free agent last summer. “Skill-wise, he’s always been someone we’ve looked at,” Morey said. “He’s so good at so many offensive actions: Spot shooting, off the dribble, good at pick and roll, good passer. We thought he was an underrated defender. And then we got the physical info and it was very positive.”
  • A three-hour preparation routine has helped the GrizzliesVince Carter remain in the league at age 40, relays Michael Lee of the Vertical. Before each game, Carter goes through a lengthy routine that includes shooting, an ice bath, treatment and taping. “I’m still standing,” Carter said. “I’m still competing, playing at this level, doing what I need to do to still be here. I still have a burning desire to compete and be around.”

Southwest Notes: Loomis, Anthony, Gordon

Mickey Loomis, the executive vice president of the Pelicans, said his role on the team is “overblown,” as Mike Triplett of relays (ESPN now link). Loomis said that GM Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry handle the day-to-day while he simply oversees things as an advisor to owner Tom Benson. Loomis, who is also the Saints GM, added that he focuses most of his attention on the NFL team and admitted that he misses some of the Pelicans games to take care of NFL matters.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Joel Anthony was the first player the Spurs considered adding when they went looking for a big man off the bench, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. “Joel’s a really intelligent young man who knows exactly what his role is and performs it well,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s a real pro, and the guys respect him.”
  • Jabari Young of Spurs Nation (video link) believes the signing of Anthony, who’s on a 10-day contract, was a good move for the SpursPau Gasol remains sidelined with a broken finger, which could potentially allow Anthony to see some playing time with the team and receive another 10-day deal once his current one expires.
  • Free agent additions Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson are thriving with the Rockets, Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated writes. Both players credit Houston’s strength and conditioning program for helping them achieve success. “We’ll lift weights, I mean heavy after a game,” Gordon said. “No matter overtime, double-overtime, we’re in that weight room right after every game.”
  • The Pelicans are making a run at the eighth seed in the Western Conference, but Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune wonders if pursuing a match with the Warriors is the best move for the franchise. Duncan argues that the team should tank and land one of the nation’s elite prospects instead of taking an improbable chance at knocking off the league’s best team.