James Harden: “Dwight and I are the cornerstones of the Rockets. The rest of the guys are role players.”

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If Chandler Parsons is looking for bulletin board material for next season, it’s going to be pretty easy to find.

First Dwight Howard said the Rockets’ loss of Parsons “won’t affect us at all.” Which is kind of what you expect Howard to say, still it’s a bit of a dis.

[MORE: Parsons ‘offended’ by Rockets’ ways]

Then James Harden took it another step. Harden is in the Philippines for an event he can’t actually play in and spoke with the Philippines Star about a variety of issues, but when asked about the loss of Parsons and other roster moves Harden said this.

“Dwight (Howard) and I are the cornerstones of the Rockets,” said Harden. “The rest of the guys are role players or pieces that complete our team. We’ve lost some pieces and added some pieces. I think we’ll be fine next season.”

We’ll see how Harden feels about role players being easily interchangeable in January after playing a few months with Trevor Ariza rather than Parsons, with Isaiah Canaan as the backup point guard for Patrick Beverley and not Jeremy Lin.

I’ll give Harden this, while the Rockets had a disappointing summer after striking out with Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh, they are not really worse than last year. I don’t like their depth as much, but if Harden and Howard can grow a little together this is as good a team as last season, maybe even a little better. Problem is that’s not enough to get the Rockets past the Spurs, Thunder and Clippers, maybe not even an improved Mavericks team.

[MORE: McHale on Rockets’ lackluster offseason: “We have to sign players”]

The one with Chandler Parsons.

I’ve got a feeling Parsons is going to go off in his first game vs. the Rockets next season.

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.