James Harden

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Rockets re-signing Bobby Brown, Troy Williams

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James Harden spearheaded the Rockets’ recruitment of Chris Paul, but the MVP runner-up didn’t work alone.

Paul’s former New Orleans teammates Trevor Ariza and Bobby Brown added appeal.

So, unsurprisingly, with Paul in a contract year, Houston is re-signing Brown. The Rockets are also re-signing Troy Williams.

Alykhan Bijani‏ of ESPN Houston:

Williams’ agency:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Brown is an undersized gunner who’s not nearly efficient enough to compensate for his defensive deficiencies, and he turns 33 before the season. But if he helps convince Paul to re-sign, it would be well worth keeping Brown on the roster all year.

The 22-year-old Williams, who went undrafted last year, is the far more intriguing player. A 6-foot-7 forward, he has the athleticism to stick in the NBA. His 3-point shot needs major development – though not quite as much if he becomes more adept at being a small-ball four, an easier task in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system.

Patrick Beverley brings defensive mind to Clippers

Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Patrick Beverley was first in line among all the newest Clippers to walk into an introductory news conference.

Then Beverley, who was dealt to the Clippers in a six-player trade that sent Chris Paul to Houston, stopped on a dime and allowed the five others to walk onto the stage first.

He will not, however, take a back seat to Paul, a nine-time All-Star. When Beverley was asked about replacing Paul, his response was short and strong.

“Let me get this out of the way: I’m not Chris Paul,” Beverley said. “I reiterate, I am not Chris Paul. Understand, he is not me either.”

And that was that.

Beverley wants the comparison to Paul to end there, but it will follow him as long as he’s the point guard for the Clippers and Paul is with the Rockets.

They’re inextricably linked, like it or not.

Beverley, no longer playing in the same backcourt with James Harden, is expected to have more freedom in an offense that will feature more ball movement than when Paul ran the system under coach Doc Rivers.

He will be counted on to provide the same stingy defense for which he is known. He matches up against opponents’ best guards and has done it well, being selected to the NBA’s first-team all defense last month. In 2016, he proclaimed that he was the best defensive player in the NBA.

“We’ve been big fans of Pat for a long time,” said Lawrence Frank, the Clippers’ executive vice president of basketball operations. “He’s an instigator (and) agitator but sometimes what gets lost in that (is) extremely talented. It seems like every time the bar is raised, he meets it. Size is irrelevant. You look at the rebounds and assists and his size. He shoots a high percentage from 3. He’s first-team all defense, but we think there’s a complete game with it.”

Beverley averaged 9.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists and shot 38.2 percent from 3-point range last season. He will fit in with former Rockets teammates Sam Dekker, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell just fine. Also introduced Tuesday were rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell.

“We have some dog in us, that’s how we play the game,” Dekker said of the recently traded Houston contingent. “We have a chip on our shoulder. . The way we got here was playing hard and playing scrappy, getting in scuffles on the court. That’s what we do. Last year, in Houston, with the second unit when they threw Pat with us, Trez and a couple other guys, when we went on the court, we always said: `Let’s bring the dog out. Let’s do what we do and do what we do best, that’s making them work and make them hate us.’ That’s what we did. Our second unit was one of the best in the league, we thought. That’s what we’re going to bring to LA.”

Beverley could see his offensive numbers increase on a team that re-signed Blake Griffin, already has DeAndre Jordan and added Danilo Gallinari this offseason.

He already has built his reputation on the defensive end, having had success guarding Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and others. But Beverley has said he is looking forward to a new kind of opportunity with the Clippers, one that could showcase more of his offensive skills.

“I’m put in a situation where I’m truly blessed to see what the limit is with me,” Beverley said. “I understand coach will push me. It’s going to be fun. My mindset is all about winning. I’m a really black-and-white guy. There’s no grey area. I’m coming to win basketball games. I didn’t come here to look good doing it.”

 

Leslie Alexander selling Rockets

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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After signing the largest contract extension in NBA history – projected to be worth $169 million over four years – James Harden said, “Everything is going to happen in Houston, and that’s the reason I’m here forever.”

But the man who agreed to pay Harden all that money won’t be around anywhere near that long.

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander is selling the franchise, team president Tad Brown announced today.

“Leslie Alexander is a true competitor who always searched for the right move to make his teams better,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “Under his ownership, he created a culture of excellence with strong management that attracted Hall of Famers, All-Stars and coaching giants and brought two NBA championships and four WNBA titles to Houston.

“Well-respected around the league, he has been an active and influential owner whose vision helped to grow the game globally, especially in China. Moreover, his philanthropy speaks just as powerfully as his ownership, with local libraries, women’s centers and homeless shelters all benefitting from his generosity.”

Forbes valued the Rockets at $1.65 billion earlier this year. It has never been a better time to own an NBA team, with new national TV deals in effect and the league’s popularity soaring.

This is a pivotal time for Houston, even with Harden locked up. Chris Paul will be a free agent next summer, eligible for a max contract worth about $207 million over five years. The Rockets are trying to trade for Carmelo Anthony, another high-priced star.

Alexander has long empowered general manager Daryl Morey to take big swings. But with the franchise’s future in flux, will Morey get to keep spending? Will the next owner sign off on paying Paul the max through age 37?

It was already an exciting time in Houston with the Rockets’ sky-high ceiling. It’s still exciting, but far less certain, with the ceiling just as high but the floor suddenly much lower.

Report: Rockets add more defense, sign Luc Mbah a Moute to one-year deal

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If the goal is to knock off the Warriors, you can never have enough wing defenders.

The Houston Rockets have set themselves up as the main challenger to the dominance of Golden State, and they just added some wing defense and some solid three-point shooting by signing Luc Mbah a Moute to a one-year deal, something first reported by Chris Haynes of ESPN.

Free-agent combo forward Luc Mbah a Moute has agreed to sign with the Houston Rockets, league sources tell ESPN.

It is believed to be a one-year, veteran minimum arrangement.

Mbah a Moute, 30, played the last two seasons with the LA Clippers as the team’s starting small forward. He declined a $2.3 million player option for the 2017-18 season to hit free-agency this summer. He shot a career high of 39 percent from the beyond the arc last season.

It is a veteran minimum contract, that’s all the Rockets have to give out.

The Rockets now will start Trevor Ariza on the wing next to James Harden and Chris Paul, but they can bring Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, and Mbah a Moute off the bench. That’s good depth at the position most needed to try and match up with the Warriors. Mbah a Moute has his limitations on offense — he shot well from three last season but can’t create or do much of anything but if he stays in his lane things work out well.

This is a good signing by the Rockets.

Report: Carmelo Anthony still expects Knicks to trade him to Rockets

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Carmelo Anthony sees a potential super team forming in Houston, one that would have the best shot to knock off the Warriors next season, and he wants to be part of it. He’s willing to waive his no trade clause to go there.

That problem is he has a massive contract paying him $55 million over the next two years, and his trade value is at an all-time low. The Knicks have no motivation to take a crappy deal — Phil Jackson may have been willing to do that just to get ‘Melo out of town, the new Steve Mills/Scott Perry regime is not.

Still, Anthony still expects the trade with the Rockets to go down, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

As New York Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry pursue a meeting with Carmelo Anthony in the coming days, league sources told ESPN that the 10-time All-Star is counting on the franchise to carry out its previously agreed upon mandate to trade him to the Houston Rockets…

Anthony, 33, has been willing to waive his no-trade clause for Houston and Cleveland, but in recent weeks, he has begun to prioritize a trade to the Rockets to join Chris Paul and James Harden over the Cavaliers and LeBron James, league sources said.

With Perry’s hiring from Sacramento and the promotion of Steve Mills to president, the Knicks have paused those trade discussions, in part because New York has been unhappy with the recent proposed returns on an Anthony deal, league sources said.

Anthony wants to be traded to the Rockets. That’s nice, I want to walk out the door of my house and hop in my Maserati Gran Turismo convertible and drive around town. Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

The Rockets may be motivated to bring in Anthony, but they are not loaded with young players that could fit with Kristaps Porzingis, nor do they have a lot of high draft picks to move, so what can they really offer? Plus, to make this work financially, the Rockets need to move Ryan Anderson and his three-year, $60 million contract. The Knicks don’t want that back, so the two sides tried to find a third and fourth team to come into the trade to take on that deal, but there were no takers (because any team willing to take on Anderson’s contract is going to want a lot of sweetners such as young players and picks to do it).

A number of teams have been rumored to be part of the deal, including New Orleans and Portland, but they are not going to make a Western Conference foe in Houston better out of the goodness of their hearts, and no deal has been found. Wojnarowski reports that the Trail Blazers will only be part of the deal if ‘Melo expands the number of places he’s willing to be traded to and comes to them. The Knicks would like to see that list of potential landing spots where Anthony would waive his no trade clause expand and give them options, but that doesn’t seem likely right now.

My sense: Anthony will start the season a Knick. Which may be a media circus, but if he is demanding to go to only one of a couple of teams, and there is no good deal to be had because ‘Melo’s trade value is so low, the new Knicks management will wait out the market.