Rockets task Olajuwon with re-signing Dwight Howard if they pull off the trade

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The Rockets have a dream.

And to keep the dream, should they get the dream, they’re going to use the Dream.

Fox Sports Florida spoke with Hakeem Olajuwon regarding the Rockets’ prospective acquisition of Dwight Howard, and the Hall of Famer confirmed that should Houston pull off the biggest trade in franchise history (and there have been some doozies for the Rockets), Olajuwon will play a big part in convincing Howard to stay. From FSN Florida:

Olajuwon said he has been asked by the Rockets to talk to Howard about signing to remain long-term with Houston if a deal goes through to get the star center from Orlando. Olajuwon, who starred for the Rockets from 1984-2001 and led them to titles in 1994 and 1995, said he has accepted the possibility of speaking to Howard, whom he knows well and has brought in for workouts the past two summers at his ranch outside Houston.

In a phone interview with FOX Sports Florida from Amman, Jordan, where he lives half the year, Olajuwon said the request came from up high in the Rockets organization. He said it was relayed last week from Rockets athletic trainer Keith Jones to his personal assistant in Texas, who contacted Olajuwon in Jordan.

“The Rockets asked me to reach out, and I’ll talk to him (if the deal goes through),” Olajuwon said of Howard, who can become a free agent next summer and could arrive in Houston with no guarantee he will stay past 2012-13. “I’d like the talk to be more like real, and I’ll let him make his decisions after that.”

via Hakeem to help with Rockets’ Howard dream.

Olajuwon worked with Howard for multiple summers on improving his footwork and post moves, trying to instill some of his vast knowledge of the inside game to Howard, whose game is primarily predicated on dunking over people smaller than him. There were slight adjustments you could see, like the face-up short-range jumper Howard added last year which he credited to Olajuwon. For the most part, Howard tries not to make a big deal out of training with The Dream, but Howard does obviously respect Olajuwon for what he’s able to teach him.

But if the Rockets complete the trade they’re talking about for Howard, they’re going to have so little left. In a few reported versions of the trade, they would move all three of the new rookies, draft picks, Kevin Martin, and Chandler Parsons. That would clean out almost all the talent the Rockets have, which means next season would be more of the same or worse for Howard, with him as the best player. That’s going to be an extremely tough sell.

Furthermore, there’s a disconnect between Olajuwon’s generation and Howard’s. Olajuwon once had an awful relationship with Rockets management over not contending just like Howard, but the words “brand” and “marketing potential” never came into the conversation. There’s just a big difference between what NBA players valued back in 84-99, and what they value today. That difference may mean the most to Howard. And if he stays, Olajuwon could be a part of it, but the more than $25 million he’ll be getting for re-signing will likely help.

Either way, the Rockets have to pull off the move first.

C.J.McCollum, Eric Gordon both withdraw from USA Basketball for World Cup

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First Anthony Davis. Then James Harden.

Now add C.J. McCollum and Eric Gordon to the list, as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Don’t be surprised if a couple of new players are added to the USA roster for training camp.

The loss of those four stars strips the Team USA of some international experience. As pointed out by John Schuhmann of NBA.com, now only four members invited to USA camp have played in the World Cup or Olympics: Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, and Kyle Lowry — and Lowry just had thumb surgery and is questionable for the playing in China.

USA Basketball can still roll out this starting five:

Damian Lillard
Bradley Beal
Khris Middleton
Tobias Harris
Andre Drummond

Then off the bench have Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Lowry, Jayson Tatum, P.J. Tucker, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez.

That’s still enough talent, coached by Gregg Popovich, to win the World Cup. The USA remains the heavy favorites for a reason.

USA Basketball is scheduled to begin its pre-World Cup camp in Las Vegas Aug. 5, with an intrasquad exhibition game at the T-Mobile Arena on Aug. 9. Then the team heads to Southern California for more training followed by an exhibition against Spain on Aug. 16 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Then the team heads overseas for the World Cup, which begins in China on Aug. 31.

James Harden reiterates it was ‘false talk’ he and Chris Paul were at odds

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The Houston Rockets — not in an anonymous way, but in a “we are putting our names on this, quote me” kind of way — have pushed back hard on the narrative that there was tension between Chris Paul and James Harden that led to the Rockets trading CP3 for Russell Westbrook this offseason. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has denied it, team leader P.J. Tucker called it fake news, and Paul himself has pushed back.

Harden has done that again, speaking at his camp on Saturday.

The counter-argument to this: Chris Paul is in Oklahoma City right now.

People will believe what they want to believe, but the Rockets guys have all gone on the record about this. Nothing leaked and anonymous.

From the Rockets’ perspective, they made a trade for Westbrook that is a roster upgrade. Houston has a dynamic duo that can compete with the Los Angeles teams and the other contenders around the league, and whatever questions fans and the media may have about the ultimate fit of Harden and Westbrook the talent level is not in question.

Do the Rockets make that trade if everything is great between Harden and Paul? Probably, if they saw CP3 as in decline and Westbrook as a talent upgrade (which they did). The Rockets can be a cold, business-like organization in terms of their pursuit of a title.

We will see next season if that calculation paid off. Whether or not Harden and CP3 got along.

Report: Kyle Korver reaches one-year deal to join Milwaukee Bucks

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The Bucks can never have enough shooting around a driving Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Enter Kyle Korver. The veteran sharpshooter will be headed to Milwaukee on a one-year contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a quality pickup at the minimum (it is a veteran minimum contract). Korver averaged 8.6 points per game last season, taking 72 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and knocking down 39.7 percent of them. The man has gravity and pulls a defender because even at age 38 defenders cannot leave him. Shooting is a skill always in demand.

The Bucks will start Wesley Matthews at the two and have Sterling Brown behind him. They have Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton at the three. Now they have some reliable veteran depth at those spots and a guy who can hit the big shot for them.

James Harden buys piece of MLS Houston Dynamo

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NBA players being minority owners in a soccer team is not new, LeBron James owns a small piece of Champions’ League winner Liverpool, for example.

James Harden is keeping it closer to home — he bought a share of the Dynamo, Houston’s MLS franchise.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future,” Harden said in a statement. “Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, have exploded in this country throughout my lifetime. I’ve been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose.”

Harden reportedly purchased a five percent stake in the team.

The Dynamo — a former MLS cup champion and a franchise that has consistently been strong — is primarily owned by Gabriel Brener, and it has boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya as one of its minority owners.

Harden has earned more than $141 million in NBA salary in his 10 NBA seasons and has four years left on the $228 million contract extension he signed with the team in 2017. In addition, he has a large shoe contract with Adidas and other endorsements.