Author: Brett Pollakoff

Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three

James Harden says he ‘definitely’ wants Rockets to add a playmaker this offseason


James Harden had an incredible 2015 season for the Houston Rockets, one that rightfully had him neck-and-neck with Stephen Curry in the race for the league’s Most Valuable Player award.

He did everything possible from an offensive standpoint to carry the Rockets for the bulk of the year, as Dwight Howard missed significant time, and key role players in Patrick Beverley and Donatas Montiejunas were lost well before the playoffs after suffering season-ending injuries.

Despite the lack of depth, Houston was still able to make it to the Western Conference Finals — and it was all thanks to the brilliance of Harden. As the Rockets look to improve their chances for next season, the team’s primary (and perhaps only) legitimate playmaker says he’d like some help offensively, so he doesn’t have to consistently do it all by himself.

From Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Rockets guard James Harden made the familiar case for continuity the Rockets have never had since he’s been in Houston. He spoke of the strengths of a roster that won 56 games and reached the Western Conference Finals. He cited the difference between the Warriors and Rockets, pointing quickly to his own turnovers.

Yet, when Rockets general manager Daryl Morey puts together his shopping list, Harden had a suggestion.

He said he “definitely” would like to see the Rockets add another playmaker to take some of that responsibility out of his hands.

“That’s one of the conversations me and Daryl are going to have (and) the coaches,” Harden said. “That’s one of the pieces to add, but that’s later conversations. We’ll be all right. We’re very confident in the group we have. This summer we have to work hard and be ready for next year.”

The Rockets have plenty of decisions to make this summer. Josh Smith, Corey Brewer and Jason Terry were all part of the playoff rotation, and all three were on extremely inexpensive deals, but are now unrestricted free agents heading into next season. Beverley is a restricted free agent, and will command a fairly large sum on the open market which the Rockets may or may not decide to match.

Harden, Howard and Trevor Ariza are all locked up on multi-year deals. Beyond that, in terms of what the roster in Houston might look like next season, things get murky pretty fast.

Report: Grizzlies express interest in Greg Oden

oden heat

When we last saw Greg Oden, he was a member of the Miami Heat during the 2014 season.

He appeared in 23 regular season games, and none really in the postseason — unless you count the 7:29 he played in total during three garbage time appearances as Miami was crushed by the Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals.

Oden simply was never healthy enough to contribute consistently, though the folks in Miami will tell you he did nothing but work extremely hard on his rehabilitation while he was there.

After sitting out the 2015 campaign, it appears as though Oden is ready to give his comeback attempt yet another shot — and at least one team has expressed some interest.

From Shams Charania of Real GM:

The Memphis Grizzlies have explored center Greg Oden, expressing interest in the recent past with a workout in the spring and potentially bringing in the former No. 1 overall NBA pick to a free-agent camp in June, league sources told RealGM. …

The Grizzlies’ current level of interest in Oden remains unclear, but the franchise is believed to be having a free-agent mini-camp in the upcoming weeks — like many organizations around the NBA. Oden is undecided in his possible participation there.

Oden’s close friend and former teammate, Mike Conley, spoke late this season about the possibility of Oden’s comeback. Surely, Oden’s comfort level with the Grizzlies rises with Conley’s stature on the team.

Conley discussed Oden back in April, telling The Oregonian that he wouldn’t be surprised to see a comeback attempt take place.

“He’s talked about that he’s not ready to leave the game. I can tell you that,” Conley said. “He wants to play.”

In addition to whether or not Oden is physically ready to return to competing at the NBA level, teams will undoubtedly wonder where he is mentally, as well. Oden has dealt with serious off-the-court issues, and reportedly battled a drinking problem during the 2014 season.

Stephen Curry and LeBron James were born at same hospital in Akron, Ohio

2015 NBA All-Star Game

We’re all well aware that LeBron James was born in Akron, Ohio. It is, after all, why he feels such a kinship with the city of Cleveland, and the primary reason he returned to the Cavaliers after playing in Miami for the last four seasons.

But did you know that Stephen Curry was also born in Akron?

Not only is that true, but Curry and James were, somewhat incredibly, born in the very same hospital.

Check out the video clip above from the folks at the Warriors, which explains this incredible coincidence.

Rumor: If Dwyane Wade leaves Heat in free agency, Lakers are an option

Los Angeles Lakers v Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat are reportedly at an impasse in terms of what he should be paid on a new contract for the next three seasons.

And for the first time ever, it has Wade considering playing somewhere else.

Wade has a player option for next season valued at $16.1 million, but with his history of injury, he’d prefer to opt out in order to sign a long-term deal that would guarantee him substantially more. The team, however — perhaps wary of the notion that Wade will still be capable of producing at an elite level in the final year of a new deal — prefers, at this point, to pay him much less than he is asking.

That opened the door for Wade to weigh his options, and anytime a star-level player is potentially going to become available, the Lakers are mentioned as a possible destination.

From Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report:

Some Heat officials had held out hope Wade would take the Dirk, Duncan approach late in career: below-market, 1-year deals….

That was never a given. Wade made it clear when he opted out (costing himself $6M in ’14-15), he had TV windfall in mind…

If Dragic signs to #’s expected, Wade wd be 3rd-highest paid on team in 15-16. If Whiteside develops, cd be 4th/5th in 16-17….

This is a rare situation where neither side really has the leverage. Management & the player r both incredibly popular…..

Finally, if Wade went anywhere, at any point, I’ve typically heard L.A. as an option. But I still expect Heat to sort this out.

Let’s emphasize that last point, that it’s more than likely the Heat and Wade come to an amicable understanding that allows him to stay in Miami.

Now, as far as the Lakers are concerned, they have the cap space to sign a max-level player, and they are somewhat desperate to infuse star-level talent into the organization as quickly as possible.

But giving a veteran with a recent history of injury issues a high-salary, multi-year deal — even one as talented as Wade has proven to be when healthy — is suicide when trying to set the franchise up for a long-term, sustained level of success.

Doc Rivers on report that Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan had a falling out: ‘I can put this to rest: They get along great’

Los Angeles Clippers v Atlanta Hawks

Once the Clippers were eliminated from the postseason, questions immediately began to surface as to what the makeup of the team might look like next season.

The core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan has yet to carry L.A. to the promised land, and the Clippers need to decide if Jordan is worth locking up with a max contract this summer in order to keep the team intact.

A report emerged that Paul and Jordan had a falling out during the season, perhaps rooted in Jordan’s inability to shoot free throws, and the work he was or was not willing to put in to turn things around.

Doc Rivers, as you might imagine, was eager to quash those rumors during a recent radio appearance.

From Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles:

“I can put this to rest: They get along great,” Rivers told Fred Roggin of The Beast 980 on Thursday. “Clearly, like everybody, they don’t get along all the time, and they don’t get along with me all the time, either, by the way. I don’t see that as an issue. I think all three, and I’m including Blake in this as well, understand how important the other guy is to them. Meaning, they all three need each other to win, and I think all three get that and all three know that and all three want to do it together. To me, that’s the most important thing.”

It’s beyond interesting that Rivers threw Blake Griffin’s name into the mix during this discussion, because there were rumblings out of Los Angeles during the season that Paul and Griffin had a strained relationship at times, as well.

The Clippers finished the regular season with the league’s most efficient offense — that’s right, it was even better than that of the Golden State Warriors. And, they did it with little to no help from the reserve unit, which featured only Jamal Crawford as a reliable option to contribute in heavy minutes off the bench.

Paul is as fiery a competitor as they come, so it’s only natural that his personality would be grating to teammates over time — much in the same way that Kobe Bryant’s non-stop, demanding and ultra-competitive nature can get old with those who are even slightly less committed.

But that’s a far cry from irreconcilable differences, which is the point Rivers was likely trying to make, here, while largely dancing around the specific issue.