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James Harden Excited To Increase Assists As Rockets Enter Season With 'Different Vibe'

Oct 26, 2016 5:16 PM

While James Harden has always been a prolific scorer, his ability as a passer may return to the public consciousness this season under Mike D'Antoni.

"You see the joy in my teammates getting shots and making shots," Harden recently told Bleacher Report. "They're comfortable. Everybody's happy. When they're happy, I'm happy. It's a different vibe. We're sacrificing for each other. That's where we are. We've got a long way to go, but for now it feels good."

D'Antoni decided in the offseason that he'd officially make Harden their point guard.

"It shocked me at first," Harden said. "And I kind of thought about it, and I was like, 'Yeah! I'm a passer. That's what I do. I create. I create and I give people opportunities to make them happy, to make them score.'"

D'Antoni wants Harden to create for others while also remaining aggressive as a scorer.

"Hopefully, he'll double his number of assists, and he had seven or eight [7.5] last year," D'Antoni said. "I hope he can average double that. He's one of the best passers I've been around."

Last season, Harden became the fourth player in NBA history to average at least 29 points, seven assists and six rebounds per game, joining Oscar Robertson, LeBron James and Michael Jordan.

"It's always been that way," Harden said of his passing. "That's why I call myself an all-around player, because I've been doing it for so long. I might not get as much credit as I deserve, but that's not for me to decide. I still go out there and just do what I've got to do. Eventually it will happen and people will figure it out."

Kevin Ding/Bleacher Report

Tags: James Harden, Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Rockets Keep Tyler Ennis, Waive Pablo Prigioni

Oct 24, 2016 3:40 PM

The Houston Rockets will waive Pablo Prigioni and keep Tyler Ennis.

The Rockets acquired Ennis during camp from the Milwaukee Bucks for Michael Beasley.

Houston was previously planning on waiving Ennis.

Shams Charania/The Vertical

Tags: Tyler Ennis, Pablo Prigioni, Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA Signing Rumor, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA Waiver

Rockets' Management Pushed For Clint Capela To Play Over Dwight Howard

Oct 24, 2016 11:18 AM

The front office of the Houston Rockets pushed for Clint Capela to receive more playing time last season over Dwight Howard.

The push added to the disharmony that played a big role in the Rockets' disappointing season.

J.B. Bickerstaff resisted complying with the wishes of general manager Daryl Morey and owner Leslie Alexander regarding a drastic reduction in Howard's playing time. 

Input from James Harden influenced Houston's desire to decrease the minutes of Howard but team sources insist Harden was never part of those discussions.

"There were times I was disinterested because of situations that happened behind the scenes that really hurt me," Howard said in a May interview with ESPN's Jackie MacMullan. "It left me thinking, 'This is not what I signed up for.'"

Asked to elaborate, Howard added: "I felt like my role was being reduced. I went to Daryl and said, 'I want to be more involved.' Daryl said, 'No, we don't want you to be.' My response was, 'Why not? Why am I here?' It was shocking to me that it came from him instead of our coach."

Howard learned of management's attempts to cut his minutes in midseason and shared a mutual interest with the Rockets front office to move him before the trade deadline. 

The Rockets anticipated that Howard would likely leave in free agency, making Capela's development critical to the franchise's future, and management felt that Capela's performance merited more minutes.

Tim MacMahon/ESPN

Tags: Clint Capela, Dwight Howard, James Harden, Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor

Patrick Beverley To Miss 4-6 Weeks With Knee Surgery

Oct 23, 2016 11:23 AM

Pat Beverley opted to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday and is expected to be out for four to six weeks, a person with knowledge of the decision said Saturday.

Beverley had not played since the first preseason game and had met with doctors several times to consider treatment options. 

Mike D'Antoni on Friday indicated Beverley could miss the season's first 20 games. Beverley averaged 9.9 points on 40 percent 3-point shooting last year.

Eric Gordon will replace Beverley in the Rockets' starting lineup.

Jonathan Feigen/Houston Chronicle

Tags: Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA Injury

Patrick Beverley Could Undergo Knee Surgery

Oct 18, 2016 7:40 PM

Patrick Beverley could undergo surgery on his left knee. Beverley will undergo further evaluations this week before a final determination is made.

Beverley has missed the past four preseason games with knee irritation.

Mike D'Antoni has planned on starting Beverley alongside James Harden in the backcourt.

With Beverley sidelined, D'Antoni has used K.J. McDaniels and Eric Gordon in the backcourt with Harden.

Calvin Watkins/ESPN

Tags: Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA Injury

Isaiah Taylor Waived By Rockets

Oct 17, 2016 2:33 PM

The Houston Rockets have waived Isaiah Taylor.

The Rockets have 18 players on the roster after waiving Taylor. 

Taylor didn't travel with the Rockets to China.

Jonathan Feigen/Houston Chronicle

Tags: Isaiah Taylor, Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA Signing Rumor, NBA Misc Rumor, NBA Waiver

Rockets Will Consider Starting Eric Gordon

Oct 15, 2016 6:41 PM

Mike D'Antoni will consider using Eric Gordon as a starter for the Houston Rockets once the regular season begins.

Gordon has typically started throughout his career and D'Antoni wants him to adjust to that role at least initially.

The Rockets will start Patrick Beverley at one of the guard spots alongside James Harden who is now being used as a point guard.

Gordon signed a four-year, $53 million deal with the Rockets in the offseason.

Calvin Watkins/ESPN

Tags: Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets, NBA

Kevin McHale Doubts James Harden Evolve Into True Faciliator

Oct 11, 2016 11:25 PM

Kevin McHale coached James Harden for several seasons with the Houston Rockets and expressed doubt he can become a facilitator under Mike D'Antoni.

"You are who you are a lot of times," McHale, who will analyze games for TNT this season, said during a Tuesday conference call with reporters. "Can you change and be a facilitator first? I don't know. Kevin Garnett, a guy I go way, way back with -- Kevin Garnett was always a pass-first player. He was a pass-first player his first day of practice when he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"James is a scorer, and at the end of the day, you do fall back on what you are. James is a scorer at heart. Can you change that? ... Can you be something that you're really not for an entire 82-game season? He's a great facilitator, great passer, and he has great vision -- he really is a scorer as a basketball player."

McHale said Harden dominated the ball when he coached him with the Rockets.

Calvin Watkins/ESPN

Tags: James Harden, Houston Rockets, NBA

Rockets Prioritizing Defense Under Mike D'Antoni, Jeff Bzdelik

Oct 8, 2016 4:53 PM

Despite Mike D'Antoni's reputation as a coach that doesn't prioritize defense, the Houston Rockets hope to improve on that side of the floor this season.

Houston hired Jeff Bzdelik as an assistant coach and has a history of improving defenses.

“Yeah, it’s a lot of things,” Bzdelik said. “You can’t let what happens on offense dictate your defensive energy. Defense needs to be constant, offense is a variable. It’s a mindset more so than anything else, to take it personal when you get scored upon.”

“It felt good. I think it started with our defense, though,” James Harden said. “Just for the first quarter, we held them to 15 points; that’s why we were able to get off to a big lead. We’ve just got to be better. We’ve got to be better for all four quarters. Stay in our defensive intensity and just be solid. We knew we can score, but defensively, we’ve just got to be solid for four quarters. And we will, it’s just a learning experience for us.”

The Rockets’ defensive rating per 100 possessions, at 109.1, was the ninth worst in the league last season. 

The Rockets want a defender on the floor in the backcourt beside Harden such as Patrick Beverley and they also hope to get more out of K.J. McDaniels.

“To get stops, everybody needs to be involved and everybody needs to trust one another and [have] a clarity to what your schemes are,” Bzdelik said. “That needs to be consistent, there needs to be a consistent effort and discipline to one scheme defensively. Everybody is on a string, and everybody does their job.”

Calvin Watkins/ESPN

Tags: Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA B-Ball IQ

Rockets Would Have To Promise Sergio Llull Significant Role To Bring Him To NBA

Oct 7, 2016 11:46 AM

The Houston Rockets remain interested in bringing Sergio Llull over to the NBA.

The Rockets own Llull's NBA draft rights.

Llull is a widely popular player for Real Madrid and signed an extension in 2015 for six seasons. Llull, however, does have a manageable buyout.

The belief is the Rockets would have to promise Llull a significant role with the team in order to get him to eventually leave Real Madrid.

Marc Stein/ESPN

Tags: Houston Rockets, Real Madrid, NBA, NBA Signing Rumor, NBA Misc Rumor, International, International Teams

Rockets Hope To Sign Sergio Llull Next Offseason
Houston has had interest in signing Sergio Llull in at least each of the past two offseasons.

Marc Stein/ESPN

Donatas Motiejunas' Qualifying Offer With Rockets Expires
The Rockets spoke with Donatas Motiejunas' agent on Saturday but no progress was made on a deal.

Calvin Watkins/ESPN

P.J. Hairston Signs Camp Deal With Rockets
Houston will have P.J. Hairston's D-League rights if he does not make their regular season roster.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical

Rockets To Make James Harden Their Full-Time Point Guard
Under the new up-tempo offense, Mike D'Antoni has decided to put the ball in James Harden's hands more than last season, like a traditional point guard.

Calvin Watkins/ESPN

Dunc'd On: HOU Season Outlook w/Rahat Huq, CHA Season Outlook w/Spencer Percy
Rahat Huq joins Nate Duncan to discuss the Rockets while Spencer Percy is the guest for their breakdown of the Hornets.

RealGM Staff Report

RealGM Radio: Southwest Division With Rob Mahoney, Jonathan Tjarks
Host Danny Leroux, Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated and Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer break down the Southwest Division.

RealGM Staff Report

Bucks Acquire Michael Beasley From Rockets For Tyler Ennis
The Rockets signed Michael Beasley at the end of the 15-16 season after he was finished with his season in China.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical

Donatas Motiejunas Waiting On Rockets To Make 'Serious Offer'
Donatas Motiejunas has met with new coach Mike D'Antoni and was told he would have a significant role with the team.

Calvin Watkins/ESPN

Rockets Meet Face-To-Face With Zhou Qi For First Time
The Rockets picked Zhou Qi in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft.

Calvin Watkins/ESPN

Kevin Durant: Nobody Appreciates James Harden Except Other Players
Kevin Durant and James Harden were teammates for several seasons with the Thunder.

Jonathan Feigen/Houston Chronicle

Michael Beasley's $1.4M Salary With Rockets Becomes Fully Guaranteed
Michael Beasley played well at the end of last season with the Rockets after coming over from China.

Marc Stein/ESPN

Bobby Brown Signs Camp Deal With Rockets
Bobby Brown last played in the NBA in 2010.

David Pick

Jason Terry Won't Return To Rockets
Jason Terry spent two seasons with the Rockets, averaging 5.9 points and 1.4 assists in 17.5 minutes per game last season.

Ari Alexander/KVOA

Pablo Prigioni, Rockets Agree Upon Two-Year Deal
The second year of Pablo Prigioni's deal with the Rockets is a team option.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical

Terrence Jones Close To One-Year Deal With Pelicans
Terrence Jones is an unrestricted free agent after the Rockets did not extend a qualifying offer.

Shams Charania/The Vertical

Warriors Gave Andrew Bogut Choice Between Mavs, Rockets
The 76ers also expressed heavy interest but the Warriors felt like they owed it to Andrew Bogut to trade him to a team with realistic playoff aspirations.

Tim MacMahon/ESPN

James Harden, Rockets Agree To Four-Year, $118M Renegotiated Extension
In total, the Rockets are paying James Harden an additional $83.5 million over the next four years.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical

Nene Agrees To One-Year, $2.9M Deal With Rockets
Nene had been with the Wizards since his trade from the Nuggets in 2012.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical

Eric Gordon, Rockets Agree Upon Four-Year, $53M Deal
Eric Gordon was also pursued by the Grizzlies and Knicks.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical

Ryan Anderson Agrees To Four-Year, $80M Deal With Rockets
Ryan Anderson has agreed upon a four-year, $80 million deal with the Rockets.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical