James Harden

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Brase, Harden

It’s not fair to saddle a 19-year-old rookie with the responsibility of turning the Mavs‘ franchise around. Fortunately, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes, Luka Doncic won’t have to.

Although Doncic will face pressure as a highly touted European charged with the task of at least symbolically replacing Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, he’ll get substantial help from incoming veteran DeAndre Jordan.

Jordan, along with young players like Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes, should give the Mavs considerably more bite in 2018/19 after a down season last year.

Sefko writes that he thinks Mavs fans can expect the Doncic trade to pay dividends but they may not come for a year or two.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets will add former Rio Grande Valley Vipers coach Matt Brase to head coach Mike D’Antoni‘s staff this season, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle tweets. Joseph Blair is a favorite to replace Brase in the G League.
  • A city prosecutor is reviewing an allegation against James Harden, an Associated Press report states. The Rockets star allegedly grabbed a woman’s wrist and threw her cellphone on the roof outside of a nightclub when she was recording a fight.
  • The Spurs will roster a team without several major contributors to their last championship, this season. A Basketball Insiders report breaks down their chances of being relevant in 2018/19 and the new challenges ahead.

And-Ones: 2019 FAs, MVP Odds, Oldest Vets

An ESPN panel was asked where they think some of the top-projected free agents of 2019 might end up next summer. The results were interesting, with the panel making a prediction for five players: Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson.

As we explored earlier this summer, both Irving and Butler have reportedly expressed interested in playing together, and the panel obviously took that into consideration, predicting both players to suit up for the Knicks next season. However, the Celtics were a close second for Irving.

Interestingly, the Lakers were the second-highest voted selection for both Butler and Thompson, and the first-place selection for Leonard by a wide-margin. Meanwhile, both Thompson and Durant are projected to return to the Warriors.

We have more from around the league:

Southwest Notes: Capela, Anderson, Harden, Mejri

Clint Capela‘s five-year contract with the Rockets includes $1.5MM in yearly incentives that he’s likely to reach and another $500K in yearly incentives he’s unlikely to attain, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports.

As previously noted, Capela’s $90MM is technically guaranteed for $80MM with $10MM in incentives. He’ll receive $1MM annually if he plays 2,000 minutes or if the Rockets make the Western Conference Finals. He also has a $500K annual incentive for reaching 2,000 minutes played and a defensive rebound percent greater than 30 percent. Pincus considers those incentives well within reach. As a point of reference, Capela logged 2,034 minutes in 74 regular-season games last season with a defensive rebounding percentage of 30.8.

He also has a $500K annual incentive for taking at least 150 free throws and making 65% or more, which Pincus considers unlikely. Capela shot a career-high 56% from the line last season.

If he reaches the likely incentives, the cap hits on Capela’s contract will be $15.3MM, $16.4MM, $17.5MM, $18.6MM and $19.7MM (Twitter links).

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • The Grizzlies lost some scoring punch with the departure of Tyreke Evans but they’ll gain two-way versatility and playmaking efficiency from Kyle Anderson, according to Grizzlies website reporter Michael Wallace. Anderson will start at small forward but he can help Memphis at as many as four positions, Wallace continues. Anderson ranked sixth among qualifying NBA players in defensive rating last season, Wallace adds. Anderson was acquired in free agency when the Spurs declined to match a four-year, $37.2MM offer sheet.
  • Rockets star and league MVP James Harden is under investigation by Scottdale, Ariz. police over a nightclub incident, BrieAnna J Frank of the Arizona Republic reports. According to a TMZ report that Frank relayed, a woman was recording a scuffle involving someone in Harden’s entourage. Harden then alleged grabbed the woman’s phone and threw it onto a roof so she couldn’t sell the video footage.
  • Salah Mejri is once again looking at defensive-oriented reserve role with the Mavericks, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. The 32-year-old Mejri will back up DeAndre Jordan, though Dirk Nowitzki will also cut into Mejri’s minutes when he gets shifted to center. Mejri signed a one-year veteran’s minimum contract earlier this month.

Harden: Carmelo Would Fit In With Rockets

James Harden isn’t worried about Carmelo Anthony fitting in with the Rockets, Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports reports. Anthony, who was traded by the Thunder to the Hawks in a salary dump, is expected to join Houston once he clears waivers. Anthony stated this week that he never really fit in with Oklahoma City’s roster but Harden believes he’ll do just fine in the Rockets’ high-powered attack. “Everybody in the world knows what Carmelo brings, how gifted and talented he is, and he still has a lot more to go,” Harden said.  “If he comes to Rockets, we’ll bring the best out of him, and I’m sure he’ll bring the best out of us as well. We all know how easy Melo scores the basketball. … Things aren’t always going to be perfect but as long as you have that communication, good things will happen.”

Harden offered more insights on a variety of topics:

  • He feels the Most Valuable Player award gives him validation after starting out with OKC as a sixth man. “I don’t know anybody else who did it. But that’s just a testament to how many guys out there that are coming off the bench, and not getting as much playing time, that you could still be that guy. It feels great, all the work that I put in, to be able to hold that trophy up.”
  • He’s motivated by the Rockets’ heart-wrenching series loss to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals after being up 3-2: “It’s on my mind every day. It’s Game 6, Game 7, that’s what drives me every day.” 
  • Despite Golden State adding DeMarcus Cousins, he’s confident the Rockets can knock the Warriors off their perch. “If you don’t get better in this league, you get passed up pretty quick. We’re not done. But what we have right now is for sure good enough.”
  • He gives a big thumbs up to the Rockets and center Clint Capela agreeing on a $90MM extension, Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated tweets. “Obviously we love the game of basketball but to be able to provide for your family for generations, that’s what we do it for. I’ve seen him work his butt off these last few years. He listens, learns, competes. I’m happy for him.”

Harden Tops James, Davis For MVP Award

Rockets guard James Harden was named the league’s Most Valuable Player during the NBA’s second annual awards show.

Harden topped the Cavaliers’ LeBron James and the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis for the league’s most coveted individual award. Harden finished second in the voting last season to the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook.

Harden led the league in scoring at 30.4 PPG. He was fourth in assists (8.8) and second in 3-pointers made per game (3.7) while also finishing in the top 10 in steals (1.8). Houston’s regular-season success, with its league-best 65-17 record, played a role in Harden’s victory.

The Cavaliers needed James’ Herculean efforts just to finish fourth in the East. He averaged 27.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG and 9.1 APG while appearing in all 82 contests.

Davis led the Pelicans to the playoffs, and a first-round knockout of the Trail Blazers, despite DeMarcus Cousins‘ season-ending Achilles injury. He posted averages of 28.1 PPG, 11.1 RPG and 2.6 BPG.

Here are the other awards announced on Monday night:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chris Paul Won’t Play In Game 7

7:13pm: Paul has a Grade 2 strain, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets. The same injury cost Harden nearly three weeks of action earlier this season.

6:24pm: Chris Paul will not play in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals tonight, Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated tweets. Coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters the bad news during his pregame press conference.

It’s obviously a serious setback for the Rockets but not unexpected. Despite frantic efforts to get him ready to play, Paul simply did not have enough time to recover from his hamstring strain.

“There’s just no way. He couldn’t explode. He couldn’t push off on it,” D’Antoni said, according a tweet from Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Paul suffered the injury late in the Rockets’ Game 5 victory on Thursday. Without him, the Rockers will rely heavily on Eric Gordon along with James Harden to run the attack in a seven-man rotation.

Houston obviously missed its star point guard during a second-half collapse Saturday that resulted in a 29-point loss in Game 6. The Rockets were outscored 64-25 after halftime.

The Warriors will also be without one of their key players, as swingman Andre Iguodala was declared out for the fourth straight game earlier in the day due to a left knee injury.

Paul has posted a 21.1/5.9/5.8 stat line through 17 postseason games with Houston. He is in the final year of the contract he signed with the Clippers, and reaching a new deal will be among the Rockets’ priorities this offseason.

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has formally announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2017/18 season, with James Harden and LeBron James leading the way as the two unanimous selections for the First Team.

The voting results will have major financial implications for the three All-NBA centers, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, and Karl-Anthony Towns. As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Davis is now eligible for a supermax extension from the Pelicans next summer. Davis will be eligible to sign that deal, which projects to be worth $230MM, as of July 1, 2019.

As for Embiid, missing out on a First Team nod means his maximum-salary contract will remain at 25% of the cap rather than being bumped up to 30%. That means he’ll miss out on approximately $29MM over the next five years, as Dan Feldman of NBC Sports details.

Towns, meanwhile, will be eligible for an extension worth 30% of the cap this summer, Marks tweets. An extension of that sort, which would make the cap outlook in Minnesota very interesting, would go into effect for the 2019/20 season.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Harden and James scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

First Team

  • Guard: James Harden, Rockets (500)
  • Guard: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (432)
  • Forward: LeBron James, Cavaliers (500)
  • Forward: Kevin Durant, Warriors (426)
  • Center: Anthony Davis, Pelicans (492)

Second Team

Third Team

Among those results, the tightest race saw DeRozan edge Curry by a single point for a spot on the All-NBA Second Team. Both players received two First Team votes and 39 Second Team votes, with DeRozan grabbing one extra Third Team vote (38 to 37) to bump him up to the Second Team ahead of Curry.

As for the players who didn’t quite make the cut, Rockets point guard Chris Paul (54 points), Jazz center Rudy Gobert (51), Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (42), and Sixers guard/forward Ben Simmons (36) received the most support.

Al Horford (Celtics), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Andre Drummond (Pistons), Clint Capela (Rockets), Draymond Green (Warriors), Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Steven Adams (Thunder), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Trevor Ariza (Rockets), DeMarcus Cousins (Pelicans), Dwight Howard (Hornets), Kevin Love (Cavaliers), and Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks) also each received at least one All-NBA vote.

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Kawhi, Grizzlies, Pelicans

While Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has deservedly received much of the praise for shaping Houston’s roster into a title contender, Morey credit his star guard James Harden for his ability as a recruiter and a pitchman, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com.

“James was everything,” Morey said in discussing the Rockets’ roster building and the addition of Chris Paul. “Not only is he a great player on the floor, but he’s someone who’s just focused on winning and is willing to do anything to make it happen, whether it be meet with people, call them, text them, whatever is required. He makes my job easy.”

As MacMahon details, Harden and Paul were both instrumental in convincing P.J. Tucker to sign with the Rockets last summer. The veteran forward turned down a larger offer from the Raptors in order to join Harden and Paul in Houston, and he showed on Wednesday night how valuable he can be for the Rockets. Tucker, who scored 20 points in his first game with the team last October, hadn’t reached that mark again until he poured in 22 against Golden State in Game 2.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

Finalists For NBA Awards Announced

The top three finalists for each of this year’s NBA awards are being released on tonight’s TNT pre-game show. The trophies will be presented June 25 at the league’s official awards show.

Here’s an ongoing list that we will update as the candidates are announced, along with links to our staff’s picks for each honor:

Rookie of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: ROY


Most Improved Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MIP


Sixth Man of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: Sixth Man


Coach of the Year

  • Dwane Casey (Raptors)
  • Quin Snyder (Jazz)
  • Brad Stevens (Celtics)

Hoops Rumors Analysis: COY


Defensive Player of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: DPOY


Most Valuable Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MVP

Western Rumors: Patterson, Burks, Kokoskov, Paul

Forward Patrick Patterson admits he’s disappointed with the way his first season with the Thunder played out, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman reports. Patterson appeared in every regular season game but averaged career lows in points, rebounds, minutes and field goal percentage after signing a three-year, $16.5MM contract last summer. “At the end of the day, it wasn’t what I expected,” Patterson said. “It wasn’t what my teammates and coaching staff expected, or even the fans.” Patterson saw very little playing time with the first unit at power forward due to Carmelo Anthony‘s presence, Horne notes.

In other Western Conference news:

  • Jazz guard Alec Burks, who has endured an injury-plagued career, headed into the offseason healthy but his future with the club is uncertain, according to Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News. Burks fell out of the rotation behind rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell and another rookie, Royce O’Neale. Burks has one year and $11.5MM remaining on his contract and his expiring deal could be traded in the offseason, Sorensen adds. “I’ve been here a long time, since I was 19, and hopefully it keeps going,” Burks told Sorensen. “I’ve seen a lot in seven years. There’s been high times, low times and even-keel times. Hopefully there’ll be more good times in the future.”
  • The Suns may have one of the youngest rosters in the league but new coach Igor Kokoskov insists that shouldn’t lower expectations, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic relays. Kokoskov, the NBA’s first European-born coach, made the comment during his introductory press conference. “This is not a development league. This is the NBA,” Kokoskov said. “We won’t ever hide it or use it as an excuse.”
  • Chris Paul knew what he was doing when he orchestrated a trade from the Clippers to the Rockets, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times writes. Pairing up with James Harden gave the perennial All-Star point guard his best chance to win an NBA championship, Woike continues. He has quieted the doubters by getting to the Western Conference Finals, Woike adds. “All the people who talk about it don’t know this game better than I do,” Paul said.