The Rockets showed plenty of signs of being a legitimate playoff team for seasons to come, both with the way they reached the playoffs in James Harden’s first year in Houston, and with the effort they gave in forcing their first round playoff series with the Thunder to reach six games before ultimately falling short.
Houston has some nice complementary pieces in Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik, and even Patrick Beverley. But Harden, coming from a Thunder team that had multiple superstars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, knows as well as anyone that it will take more firepower for his current team to reach that next level.
That’s probably why he’s willing to be a part of the recruiting process for potential free agents this summer.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
On his way out of the building, furthermore, Harden told ESPN.com that he intends to be an active member of the Rockets’ recruiting efforts this summer.
“Hell, yeah,” Harden said. “There’s a lot of good options out there.”
Asked specifically about the Lakers’ Howard, with the Rockets widely regarded as the team with the best shot of stealing him away from L.A., Harden broke into a smile and added: “Maybe. Possibly.”
This is no surprise, obviously, considering the fact that Harden had said back in December that he’d already begun the recruiting process.
But it has to make the organization happy that they invested in this particular superstar. You may remember John Wall of the Wizards taking the polar opposite of Harden’s position when Washington’s season ended in mid-April.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.