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Kevin Durant Reflects On Time With Westbrook, Harden

Jan 18, 2017 11:15 PM

Kevin Durant reflected back this week on how special the Oklahoma City Thunder were earlier in his career playing beside fellow MVP candidates Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

The Thunder traded away Harden in 2012.

“It’s easy to say we were supposed to be together for the rest of our careers, but it didn’t play out like that,” Durant said. “I think all three of us will have memorable careers. And it’ll be a journey we’ll always remember, something that’s different and unique, playing with two different guys who are doing incredible things in the league right now. But when you look back, think about the fun times instead of what could’ve been.”

Durant and Westbrook were only 23 when they reached The Finals, while Harden was 22. Oklahoma City staying together is one of the greatest what-ifs in NBA history.

“No. We never looked at it that way, like we could be best of all-time,” Durant said. “It was really AAU basketball, man. We were just having fun. We weren’t listening to anyone on the outside, media, none of that. It was just pure fun. When we did hear something about the group, it was like, what is this? That was so foreign to us because we never paid attention to it.”

 

Durant believes Harden could have remained Oklahoma City's Sixth Man.

“I think he’d have stayed in that role. I think so,” Durant said. “He’d have still been a really great player. You look at it, a lot of people wouldn’t have looked at him as a Sixth Man. He’d have been better. I think he’d have been better. Obviously I’m sure he loves what he’s doing now, but if we would’ve won a championship, I think the perception of him would’ve just been as a great player. ‘He’s the heart, he’s what makes us go.’ That’s what his label would’ve been, instead of just Sixth Man. He would’ve probably been the best Sixth Man that ever was.”

Durant paused, looking frustrated at himself for even entertaining the question.

“But don’t even worry about that,” he said. “I don’t even want to talk about that.”

Anthony Slater/San Jose Mercury News

Tags: Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA

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Mike D'Antoni: James Harden Is Perfect Superstar For How I Coach

Jan 18, 2017 1:30 PM

With James Harden playing the type of basketball Daryl Morey has touted for years, he perhaps is the star the most embodies the advanced-stats ethos.

"I would say it transcends that," Morey said. "That's making it too small. I think he's maybe the greatest off-the-dribble driver of all time, in terms of his ability to create offense at a high-efficiency rate for his team."

"James Harden was the perfect superstar for how I would like to coach," said Mike D'Antoni.

Morey gambled his future as a general manager on the Harden trade.

"People always ask, 'You traded for him; did you know he was this good?'" Morey said. "I'm like, 'F--k no!' I mean, we thought he was extremely good and better than other teams probably did."

Howard Beck/Bleacher Report

Tags: James Harden, Houston Rockets, NBA

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James Harden: I Was Shocked By Mike D'Antoni's Point Guard Idea

Jan 17, 2017 5:18 PM

James Harden knew Mike D'Antoni was innovative but he was surprised by the thought of playing point guard full time.

“I was shocked,” Harden said. “But I’ve always been a really good passer and a playmaker. As training camp came along and I started handling it, it came easier. I’m still learning to do it at a high level every single night. You are in control of the ball 90 percent of the game. But it feels good. Guys are getting shots, guys are happy and that’s what matters."

The Houston Rockets have a 32-11 record to begin the season with Harden playing like an MVP candidate.

D'Antoni saw a way to make Harden even better.

“I watched a lot of tape of him,” D’Antoni said. “His skills are enormous. Point guard made sense. He was that anyway. We just cut the fat off. The way he plays now, he’s making an impact every minute. So we can play him less minutes. And he’s fresher.”

 

Chris Mannix/Sports Illustrated

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

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Rockets Open To Trading K.J. McDaniels

Jan 13, 2017 5:19 PM

The Houston Rockets could use K.J. McDaniels in a trade before the deadline.

The Rockets were gauging the trade value of Corey Brewer at one point, but he's since moved back ahead of McDaniels in the rotation of Mike D'Antoni.

McDaniels signed a three-year, $10 million contract with the Rockets in the 2015 offseason.

Marc Stein/ESPN

Tags: K.J. McDaniels, Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA Trade Rumor, NBA Misc Rumor

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Donatas Motiejunas: Rockets Lost An Asset, I Lost $37M

Jan 12, 2017 12:10 PM

After a long restricted free agency, Donatas Motiejunas eventually signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans when he became an unrestricted free agent.

Motiejunas signed a four-year, $37 million offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets that was matched by the Houston Rockets, which ultimately fell apart.

“Honestly, you can say it was business stuff, but, from my side, I’m a basketball player, I just want to play,” Motiejunas said. “Being involved in that business situation, it was one of the worst experiences of my life that I’ve had. I would say, from any basketball player, we work every day, we put our sweat, we put our tears, we put our blood on the floor, try to help and make teams better, so when someone acts with you like this, it’s just wrong.”

Motiejunas was asked what he thought about losing a multi-year deal.

“The team lost an asset,” Motiejunas said. “I lost $37, 38 million, so both sides lost in this situation. No one won in this situation actually. I know, as soon as I step on the floor, the people are going to see that I’m the same guy that I was last year when I was playing. For me, I’m not going to lose anything. After this year, someone else is going to pick me up. I’m not worried about that. I know how to play basketball. I know how to make every and each team better. I adjust to the situation depending on what coach asks me to do, so I’m not worried about that. It was just a ridiculous situation, the resolution was taking too long, and it was affecting me as a player, and it was affecting me personally. Instead of being a business decision it was like more of a personal decision.”

Michael Scotto/Basketball Insiders

Tags: Donatas Motiejunas, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor

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Donatas Motiejunas Saw 'Best Opportunity' With Pelicans After 'Frustrating' Free Agency

Jan 4, 2017 4:38 PM

Donatas Motiejunas is looking forward to returning to game action with the New Orleans Pelicans for the first time in eight months after a lengthy free agency.

"It was really frustrating," Motiejunas said about the situation. "On the other [hand], I tried to keep my cool head. I was working out in Vancouver, so not a lot of people know me there. There was not a lot of pressure. I had a lot of good people there around me who helped me really go through this."

A lingering back injury forced Motiejunas out of all but 37 games last season and led to the voiding of a trade last February to the Detroit Pistons.

"I've been cleared by every single team that I visited, medically" Motiejunas said.

The Lakers and Wolves also had interest in Motiejunas.

"I visited a couple of teams and I saw the best opportunity here," he said, "so my decision was pretty easy."

 

Justin Verrier/ESPN

Tags: Donatas Motiejunas, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, NBA, NBA Signing Rumor, NBA Misc Rumor

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Dwane Casey, Mike D'Antoni Named Coaches Of The Month

Jan 4, 2017 2:27 PM

Dwane Casey and Mike D'Antoni have been named the Coaches of the Month for December.

Toronto finished December with a 10-4 record (second in the East) and averaged a conference-best 112.1 points with a +11.1-point differential. The Raptors scored 100+ points in 11 consecutive games during the month (December 2-23) and became the first team in NBA history to make at least 12 three-pointers while shooting .400 percent or better from behind the arc in eight consecutive games (November 23-December 8). Toronto also finished the month ranked second defensively holding opponents to 101.1 points per game.  

RealGM Staff Report

Tags: Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors, NBA

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James Harden, John Wall Named Players Of The Month For December

Jan 3, 2017 3:10 PM

James Harden and John Wall have been named the NBA Players of the Month for December.

Harden averaged 28.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 12 assists as Rockets went 15-2.

Wall led the Eastern Conference in assists per game at 10.7 (second in the NBA during December) while averaging 24.5 points (fifth in the East and 10th in the NBA), 4.4 rebounds and an NBA-best 2.67 steals per game. He is currently the only player in the NBA this season to average at least 23.0 points, 10.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals and is one of only three guards in the league to average a point-assist double-double.

RealGM Staff Report

Tags: Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards, NBA, NBA Award

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Rockets Tout Character, Harmony For Turnaround

Jan 3, 2017 2:55 PM

The Houston Rockets are having great success this season with James Harden playing like a MVP surrounded by three-point shooters. Houston reached the Western Conference Finals in 2015 and barely reached the playoffs in 2016. They now look like contenders again.

“The character of each guy in that locker room — it’s just off the charts,” said D’Antoni. “We have tough guys, we have nice guys. … They just keep working, keep working, and keep working. It’s a lot of fun coaching them.”

According to Ryan Anderson, the key to Houston’s harmony is players understanding who they are: “I think that a huge thing I’ve learned over the years is: To have a successful team, you have to have guys who accept their roles. … There’s gonna be nights where it’s Trevor’s night, there’s gonna be nights where it’s my night, there’s gonna be nights where it’s Eric’s night; obviously all built around James.”

Anderson signed with the Rockets in the offseason after the front office was "obsessed" with him for several years.

“James Harden is not the typical superstar player,” Anderson said. “You don’t see guys like him very often that play this game. … He has such great court vision, he sees so many angles, he can obviously score the ball like crazy. But the way he’s passing it, moving it, and rebounding — doing things to sacrifice for the team — is pretty ridiculous.”

Kevin O'Connor/The Ringer

Tags: Houston Rockets, NBA

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John Wall, James Harden Named Players Of The Week

Jan 2, 2017 5:47 PM

John Wall and James Harden have been named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Dec. 26 through Sunday, Jan. 1.

Wall led the Wizards to a 3-0 week, with all three victories coming at home, where Washington has won eight consecutive games. He averaged 24.3 points (eighth in the East), an NBA-leading 13.0 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 2.67 steals (second in the East) for the week. After opening the week with 18 points and a season-high 16 assists in a 107-102 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 26, Wall recorded 36 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in a 111-105 victory against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 28.

Harden lifted the Rockets to a 4-0 week by leading the NBA in scoring (37.3 ppg), ranking second in the league in assists (12.5 apg) and finishing tied for eighth in the West in rebounding (9.8 rpg). In addition to shooting 56.0 percent from the field, 45.9 percent from three-point range and 88.9 percent from the free throw line, Harden scored 30 or more points and handed out at least 10 assists in all four games.

The 27-year-old Houston guard closed the week with back-to-back triple-doubles, including a historic performance in a 129-122 victory against the New York Knicks on Dec. 31, when Harden scored a career-high 53 points, equaled a career best with 17 assists and grabbed a Rockets-season-high 16 rebounds. Harden became the first player in NBA history to have at least 50 points, 15 assists and 15 rebounds in a game, and he tied Wilt Chamberlain (1968) for the most points in a triple-double.

RealGM Staff Report

Tags: Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards, NBA, NBA Award

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Trevor Ariza Waits To Confront Salah Mejri Outside Mavs' Locker Room
According to a source, Salah Mejri made a derogatory comment to Trevor Ariza about Ariza's wife and children.

Calvin Watkins/ESPN

Rockets Proposed Supermax Rule Of New CBA
The Rockets were the team that initially proposed the NBA's new supermax contract extension rule and pushed for it throughout the process.

Jonathan Feigen/Houston Chronicle

Russell Westbrook, James Harden Will Be Grandfathered Into Super-Max
Both James Harden and Russell Westbrook signed extensions in the 2016 offseason.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertial

Clint Capela Out Four Weeks With Broken Fibula
Clint Capela was injured on Saturday after banging knees with Karl-Anthony Towns.

Hunter Akins/Houston Chronicle

DeMar DeRozan, James Harden Named Players Of The Week
DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors to a 3-1 week, averaging a league-high 31.5 points on 60.5 percent shooting to go with 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

RealGM Staff Report

Rockets To Re-Sign Bobby Brown
Bobby Brown appeared in six games for the Rockets this season before he was released.

Shams Charania/The Vertical

Rockets Renounce Rights To Donatas Motiejunas
The Rockets have renounced their rights to Donatas Motiejunas and he'll become an unrestricted free agent.

Jonathan Feigen/Houston Chronicle

Thunder, Pacers, Rockets Have Had Interest In Rudy Gay
Rudy Gay can become a free agent this offseason and has openly suggested he isn't interested in re-signing with the Kings.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertial

Rockets, Donatas Motiejunas Hit Another Snag On Contract
The Rockets and Donatas Motiejunas agreed upon a new contract on Friday but that hit a snag on Saturday with his physical.

Jonathan Feigen/Houston Chronicle

Rockets Sign Donatas Motiejunas To New Four-Year, $35M Deal
Donatas Motiejunas broke restricted free agency convention by not reporting for his physical this week.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical

Rockets Won't Lift Matched Offer Sheet Signed By Donatas Motiejunas
The Rockets can still theoretically agree upon a separate deal with Donatas Motiejunas though he is technically under a uniform player contract.

Calvin Watkins/ESPN

David Stern: There Was Never A Chris Paul To Lakers Trade To 'Void'
David Stern was asked about the proposed trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers that was canceled by him when the NBA were assuming control of New Orleans.

Sports Business Radio (via Ben Golliver/Sports Illustrated)

Mike D'Antoni: Rockets Have Same Philosophy, From Owner To GM To Star
The Rockets are playing with pace and efficiency on offense with their system built around James Harden.

Sam Amick/USA Today

Donatas Motiejunas At Odds With Rockets Over $6M In Lost Incentives
The $6 million difference was to be paid to Donatas Motiejunas via incentive clauses if he played for the Nets.

Calvin Watkins/ESPN

Donatas Motiejunas Won't Report To Rockets
The Rockets can leave the current deal open or return Donatas Motiejunas to restricted free agency.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical

Rockets Match Donatas Motiejunas' Four-Year, $37M Offer Sheet
The Rockets have matched the offer sheet Donatas Motiejunas signed with the Nets.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical

Rockets Were Al Horford's Second Choice In Free Agency
Al Horford met with four teams at the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta during free agency.

Adam Himmelsbach/Boston Globe

Nets Sign Donatas Motiejunas To Four-Year, $37M Offer Sheet
With Donatas Motiejunas being a restricted free agent, the Houston Rockets have 72 hours to match.

Marc J. Spears/The Undefeated

Nets Considering Signing Donatas Motiejunas
Donatas Motiejunas is visiting with the Nets and undergoing a physical.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical

Kevin Martin Retires After 12 NBA Seasons
Kevin Martin spent last season with the Timberwolves and the Spurs.

ESPN