James Harden

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Moore, Long, Cunningham

The Rockets enter the 2017/18 campaign with last season’s Most Valuable Player runner-up in James Harden and offseason acquisition Chris Paul, widely viewed as one of the greatest point guards ever. A deal for Carmelo Anthony has not materialized but Houston is still an improved team, David Aldridge of NBA.com writes.

Aside from the acquisition of Paul, the Rockets have been in headlines all offseason. Tilman Fertitta purchased the Rockets for $2.2 billion, Hurricane Harvey hit the city of Houston hard, and even to this point, Anthony to Houston rumors persist. Nonetheless, head coach Mike D’Antoni believes his team is in prime position for success.

“The biggest advantage is for 48 minutes we have a Hall of Fame point guard (either Harden or Paul) on the floor. That’s huge,” D’Antoni said. “And both of them can play off the ball real well, they’re both great shooters, and both can exploit the defense when the ball is kicked … whoever initiates it would normally finish it, but if they have to kick the ball over to the other guy, they’ll finish it.”

Aldridge also breaks down the team chemistry heading into the season and expectations for a team that won 55 games last season.

Below you can read additional notes around the Southwest Division:

James Harden Talks Chris Paul, Rockets, Summer 17

Chris Paulwho had the ability to become a free agent this offseason, informed the Clippers in June that he would not be returning to the club. Instead, he intended to go to the Rockets, which prompted Los Angeles to trade him to Houston prior to him activating his Early Termination Option.

James Harden played a key role in bringing Paul to Houston. The 2016/17 MVP runner up discussed the acquisition with Sam Amick of USA Today, telling the scribe that he spoke with Paul about forming a dynamic backcourt.

“I just knew that in the summertime obviously [Paul] was a free agent, and I wanted to see where his head was,” Harden said of Paul. “He didn’t seem happy, so after that we just took it from there.”

Harden continued, telling Amick that he feels the move puts the team in a position to match up with Golden State, the conference’s 3-time reigning champ.

“Obviously Golden State has been in the Finals and won two out of three, so that’s what everybody is trying to build-up against. But we’re right there. We’re right there. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do, but it definitely puts us in a better chance,” the 27-year-old added.

Harden understands that playing alongside someone as great as Paul is a huge opportunity. Paul can become a free agent at the end of next season, so there’s no telling whether the 2017/18 campaign will be the only one where the two share a backcourt. Harden, who has made several changes to his offseason routine, including the addition of yoga and pilates, isn’t going to take the opportunity for granted.

“Every summer, it’s about getting better and putting yourself in a position to last an entire season,” Harden said.“I know how exciting this season is [going to be, and] I know how important it is, so I’m going to take full advantage of it. I have a lot of charity [events], a lot of things going on, but when I’m in that gym that’s kind of my getaway. That’s kind of when I’m locked in.”

Western Notes: Jackson, Harden, Muhammad, Wolves, Clippers Arena

Rumors of the Suns trading promising rookie Josh Jackson for Kyrie Irving should be put to rest, writes Greg Moore of AZCentral.com. Moore writes that Jackson and Devin Booker each create a sense of “awe and wonder,” making anyone who watches them dream of the future.

The Arizona-based scribe argues that the manner in which coach Earl Watson talks about Jackson comes off much more as genuine optimism for the future than big talk to boost trade value.

“I love Josh Jackson,” Watson said Monday. “Something about him is just uncommon.” Devin Booker, meanwhile, “always had that edge.” “(Those) two together are going to be great young guys who can push other guys to become better because they’re so inner competitive,” Watson said.

Watson joked in response to being asked about a rumor that Jackson had grown two inches since being drafted:  But “if he did, we love it, and even if he didn’t … let’s build the legend. Yeah, he grew. Absolutely. He’s like 7 feet now … anyone coming up against him should be intimidated by his constant growth vertically, in height, and ability to play above the rim.”

In a recent interview, Jackson addressed the trade talk, saying, “I think if that was going to happen, it would have happened by now.” However, he also said: “I’m going to make the best of whatever situation that I’m presented with. If I’m traded to China, whatever, I’m going to come out, and I’m going to be happy and just try to make the best of it.”

Here are more notes from the Western Conference:

  • James Harden is more fit and fired up than ever, writes Sam Amick of USA Today.  “I know how exciting this season is (going to be, and) I know how important it is, so I’m going to take full advantage of it. I have a lot of charity (events), a lot of things going on, but when I’m in that gym that’s kind of my getaway. That’s kind of when I’m locked in,” Harden said. The Rockets‘ 2017 postseason ended with concerns over Harden’s fatigue and stamina.
  • Shabazz Muhammad may have to settle for a short-term “prove-it” deal for next season, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. Heading into the offseason, coach Tom Thibodeau used the word “optimistic” when discussing re-signing Muhammad. However, in July, the wing’s rights were renounced. On Wednesday, Timberwolves signee Jamal Crawford tweeted Muhammad, “c’mon back home.”
  • The mayor of Inglewood and the four other council members unanimously approved a revised agreement with a Clippers-controlled company to shrink the four-block area where an arena could be built so homes and a church aren’t displaced, reports Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times. More than a dozen citizens had raised concerns about the potential arena before the vote took place.

Southwest Notes: Harden, Anthony, Irving

GM Daryl Morey recently praised James Harden for his role as a recruiter, telling ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on his podcast (h/t Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders) that Harden “understands the plan,” adding that “he wants to execute for the team he’s leading.” 

Hamilton notes that Harden had a hand in recruiting Chris Paul to the Rockets and his involvement in bringing Carmelo Anthony to Houston will be crucial. The Rockets don’t have an array of young, promising talent to offer the Knicks, so the probable way to get Anthony in Houston is for the 10-time All-Star to force his way onto the team, something that appears is already happening. That likely doesn’t occur without Harden and Anthony being on the same page.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Landing Anthony is not a sure thing for the Rockets and Hamilton examines what other talent the team could pursue should they find themselves unable to swing a deal with New York. DeMarcus Cousins, who will be a free agent after the season, could be an option. Hamilton also names Kenneth Faried and Jahlil Okafor as frontcourt players who could be targets.
  • Hall of Famer David Robinson believes the Spurs would be “crazy not to want” Kyrie Irving on the team, as he said on SiriusXM NBA Radio (h/t Inquirer.net). “I certainly think you add a talent like that to a system that can … enhance his impact in the game and make him more efficient,” Robinson said of the point guard. San Antonio is on Irving’s short list of destinations where he would like to be traded.

Players Who Can Veto Trades In 2017/18

No-trade clauses are rare in the NBA, but one such provision has been the subject of much discussion so far in 2017, with Carmelo Anthony making use of his NTC to block the Knicks from sending him to an undesirable destination. At this point, Anthony is focused on joining the Rockets, and is reportedly unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to go to another team.

Anthony is one of just three NBA players whose contract includes an explicit no-trade clause, but there are still several players each year who have the ability to veto trades. A player who re-signs with his previous team on a one-year contract – or a two-year deal with an option year – is given no-trade protection, and so is a player who signs an offer sheet and has that offer matched by his previous team. Players who accept qualifying offers after their rookie deals expire can also block deals, though no restricted free agents have signed their QOs so far this year.

Taking into account that list of criteria, here are the players who must give their consent if their teams want to trade them during the 2017/18 league year:

No-trade clauses

Players whose offer sheets were matched

  • Otto Porter (Wizards)
    • Note: Even with his consent, Porter cannot be traded to the Nets during the 2017/18 league year.

Players accepting qualifying offers

Players re-signing for one year (or two years including an option)

In addition to the players listed above who can veto trades through the 2017/18 league year, there’s another small handful of players who can’t be dealt under any circumstance until at least next July. The following players signed a Designated Veteran Extension this season, which precludes them from being traded for a full calendar year:

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post.

Rockets Notes: Harden, Anthony, Paul

James Harden, who recently signed a four-year extension with the Rockets, wants to remain with the franchise for the rest of his career, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com relays.

“I know where home is,” said Harden. “I know where I want to be. I know where I want to retire ultimately and where I want to win a championship. Everything is going to happen here in Houston, and that’s the reason I’m here forever.”

Harden had two seasons left on his current deal before he committed to the four additional years with the team. GM Daryl Morey said inking the 5-time All-Star for the maximum salary over the maximum amount of years was an “easy” decision for the franchise.

“We would do more if we could,” Morey said. “This is the most they allow us to do. You work your whole career if you’re myself to get a player of James’ caliber and now Chris [Paul‘s] caliber. We’re excited. … We would have done longer and more money if we could.”

Here’s more from Houston:

  • Morey added that Harden is constantly consulted on personnel moves, MacMahon passes along in the same. “My job every day is to try to put the players around him to win a championship,” Morey said. “That’s our only goal here. I know that’s James’ only goal. His ability to recruit other players like Chris Paul, like all the players around the team, is the modern way that I think teams are going to be built.”
  • Harden believes adding Carmelo Anthony would help the Rockets, but he’s content with the roster as it currently stands John Weinfuss of ESPN.com passes along.  Talks between the Rockets and Knicks on an Anthony deal have stalled, but the small forward reportedly expects to be dealt to the franchise.
  •  Paul is excited for the opportunity to play alongside Harden even though it may mean sacrificing ball-handling duties, MacMahon adds in a separate piece. “That’s the coach’s problem over here, to figure that out. I think coach said it: When you want to win, you’ll do whatever it takes. I know James has that; I know I do. Whoever is in our locker room from day one, we’re going to talk about sacrificing and doing whatever you have to do to help us win,” Paul said.

Contract Details: Teodosic, Curry, Durant, Harden

Milos Teodosic‘s new contract with the Clippers is worth $6MM in year one and $6.3MM in year two, with the team using a chunk of its mid-level exception to complete the signing, per Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). As Pincus explains, however, the deal isn’t quite that simple. It also features a 15% trade kicker, a partial guarantee of $2MM in year one, a partial guarantee of $2.1MM in year two, and a second-year player option (Twitter links).

What does that mean in practical terms? Well, Teodosic’s first-year salary will become guaranteed in a matter of days. It only features a partial guarantee initially so that a partial guarantee could be included on the second year as well. That second year will now function as a mutual option of sorts — if Teodosic picks up his option, the Clippers would still have a window to waive him and only be on the hook for a third of his salary ($2.1MM of $6.3MM).

Here are more details on new contracts from around the NBA, with all information via Pincus:

Western Conference:

  • The new super-max contract signed by Stephen Curry (Warriors) includes a 15% trade kicker and has no options (Twitter link). Kevin Durant‘s two-year deal with the Warriors also features a 15% trade kicker, though he’s even less likely than Curry to be dealt (Twitter link).
  • As for James Harden‘s super-max extension with the Rockets, the final year of that deal (2022/23) is a player option (Twitter link).
  • The Rockets signed undrafted rookie Cameron Oliver to a two-year, minimum salary contract that includes $300K in guaranteed money (Twitter link).
  • George Hill‘s deal with the Kings is frontloaded, with a $20MM cap hit in year one and $19MM in year two. Hill’s third-year salary of $18MM is only guaranteed for $1MM (Twitter link).

Eastern Conference:

  • J.J. Redick would earn an even larger salary on his one-year contract with the Sixers if he’s traded this season. The $23MM pact includes a 15% trade kicker (Twitter link).
  • The Magic signed Shelvin Mack to a two-year contract worth an even $6MM annually, but only $1MM is guaranteed in year two (Twitter link).
  • Undrafted free agent Alfonzo McKinnie signed a two-year, minimum salary contract with the Raptors that features a $100K guarantee (Twitter link).

Rockets Sign James Harden To Designated Veteran Extension

James Harden and the Rockets have finalized a contract extension that will keep him under contract through the 2022/23 season, the team announced today in a press release. Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (link via Woj’s Twitter) first reported that Harden and the Rockets were making progress toward a new deal that will be the biggest in NBA history.NBA: Preseason-New York Knicks at Houston Rockets

The new contract will begin in 2019/20, replacing Harden’s player option, and will add four years to the guaranteed two years on his current deal.

“Houston is home for me,” Harden said in a statement. “Mr. [Leslie] Alexander has shown he is fully committed to winning and my teammates and I are going to keep putting in the work to get better and compete for the title.”

Harden just signed an extension with the Rockets last summer, and typically wouldn’t be permitted to sign another new deal so soon. However, he and Russell Westbrook are eligible for extensions this summer, having been grandfathered in under the Designated Veteran Extension rules in the new CBA. The DVE allows players to sign for super-max deals worth 35% of the cap when they are named to the league’s All-NBA team and/or meet other criteria.

The exact terms of Harden’s extension will depend on where the NBA’s salary cap lands in 2019/20, but based on current projections, it would be worth more than $169MM over the four new years, running through 2022/23. Combined with his next two seasons, he’d be on track to earn approximately $228MM over the next six years.

Harden, who turns 28 next month, is coming off an MVP-caliber season in which he set new career highs in PPG (29.1), APG (11.2), and RPG (8.1). He’ll join forces in 2017/18 with fellow All-Star Chris Paul, who was acquired by Houston last month in a blockbuster trade with the Clippers.

Westbrook (Thunder) and John Wall (Wizards) are the other stars expected to receive Designated Veteran Extension offers this offseason, if they haven’t already. Stephen Curry (Warriors) agreed to the first of those deals last weekend.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Southwest Notes: Noel, Gentry, Paul

The Mavs won’t be travelling far when the free agency period officially opens tomorrow night at midnight, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. Instead, he says, the franchise will zero in on its two own free agents: Nerlens Noel and Dirk Nowitzki.

While a Nowitzki deal is a foregone conclusion, the interesting part will be whether the Mavs can come to terms with Noel before the the restricted free agent lands a lofty offer sheet from a team willing to pay top dollar.

Currently, Sefko notes, the cap-hit the Mavs take for Noel is $11MM, a mark that figures to be considerably lower than what the 23-year-old would be able to land on the open market.

The decision to focus on Nowitzki after declining his team option this week and bringing Noel back is representative of the change in direction the Mavs have undergone this season.

Having landed Harrison Barnes in free agency last year and traded for Noel at the trade deadline in February, the Mavs have promptly patched together an intriguing young core.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • After two lackluster seasons at the helm of the Pelicans, Alvin Gentry is well aware of the fact that the NBA is a “results industry.” The head coach spoke with Scott Kushner of The Advocate, noting that he doesn’t feel that there’s any extra pressure this season.
  • There’s no denying that for Chris Paul to thrive with the Rockets, he, Mike D’Antoni and James Harden will all have to end up on the same page. Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report writes about how they’ll need to adapt to make that happen.
  • There was some truth to the speculation that linked Chris Paul to the Spurs but two things sullied the opportunity. Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated notes that the uncertainty of LaMarcus Aldridge‘s status, coupled with the notion of having to replace Tony Parker at point guard, dissuaded Paul from exploring things further.


Latest On The Chris Paul Trade

Chris Paul‘s departure from the Clippers today severed a relationship that began to fall apart when the team acquired Austin Rivers in 2015, according to a Facebook post from Michael Eaves of ESPN. Several Clippers believed Rivers brought an entitled attitude to the team because he is the son of coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers. Veterans didn’t think Austin Rivers tried hard enough to fit in, which created dissension in the locker room. Paul, in particular, thought that Austin Rivers got preferential treatment from his father.

The situation reportedly reached a breaking point prior to the trade deadline when the Knicks offered Carmelo Anthony and Sasha Vujacic to L.A. in exchange for Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce and Austin Rivers. Doc Rivers blocked the deal, which led Paul to believe that coaching his son was more important than winning, with an unidentified league executive saying, “Chris despises Doc.”

There’s more fallout from today’s blockbuster trade:

  • The decision to opt in for the final year of his contract gives Paul more flexibility if he wants to team up with LeBron James next summer, Eaves notes in the same post. He mentions the Rockets, Lakers and possibly the Clippers, if Doc Rivers is gone, as potential destinations for that to happen. In the meantime, Paul can see how well his game meshes with James Harden‘s and gets a financial windfall because Texas doesn’t have a state income tax.
  • Austin Rivers denied on Twitter that he had anything to do with Paul’s desire to leave. “These false rumors are comedy…so fictional it’s actually amusing! People will say or do anything to get attention,” he posted. He concluded the message with “A lot of clowns out there,” using two clown emoji symbols.
  • The Clippers were concerned about the later years of Paul’s next contract, tweets David Aldridge of TNT. A five-year deal in excess of $200MM would have paid Paul nearly $45MM at age 37, and L.A. wasn’t willing to make that commitment.
  • Newly hired Clippers consultant Jerry West didn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting with Paul, according to Chris Broussard of Fox Sports 1 (Twitter link).
  • The Rockets would have preferred to clear cap space by trading Ryan Anderson, but there wasn’t much of a market available, reports Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Two teams that were interested asked for two first-round picks in exchange for taking the three years and $60MM left on Anderson’s contract.
  • Trading for Paul before July 1st will allow the Rockets to enter free agency over the salary cap, Lowe adds, giving them access to a full midlevel exception worth more than $8MM and a biannual exception topping $3MM.
  • The Rockets will continue to pursue other stars, but probably can’t offer Trevor Ariza in any deal, according to Lowe. Paul remains close with his former teammate in New Orleans, and the chance to reunite played a decision in Paul’s decision to pick Houston. The Clippers, Lowe relays, had made several attempts to obtain Ariza.
  • Rockets GM Daryl Morey credits Harden for making today’s trade happen. In a video posted by Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston, Morey says the Rockets now have the two best playmakers in the league.
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