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February 19, 2015 Updates

In a new ad set to debut during Friday’s Spurs-Warriors game, the NBA is honoring the Chinese New Year. The commercial features James Harden and Jeremy Lin visiting a fan’s house to honor the holiday, which begins this week. The commercial is colorful and entertaining but is also a bit strategic for the league — as they point out on their YouTube page, China has the largest international NBA fan base. Another video posted to the league’s YouTube page shows a variety of “bloopers” that happened in the filming of the ad, including Dwyane Wade and Steph Curry having a bit of trouble with their lines. For The Win

Two years and four months have passed since the trade, and Harden is now a 25-year-old supernova, not only the most prolific scorer in the NBA and one of the most productive passers, but suddenly a stopper and a leader to boot. “Our best player since Hakeem Olajuwon,” says Rockets owner Leslie Alexander. Houston sits tied for third in the West, Oklahoma City ninth. The Thunder did need him after all. “I still think a lot about the ifs,” Harden says. “But I’m good now.” A star does not reminisce about former employers who withheld max contracts. He haunts them without remorse. Welcome to the year of the Beard, the Mohawk and the Step Daddy, the year that slow became fast, that Compton became Euro, and that drawing a foul became an art form. Sports Illustrated

Harden will never be the loudest voice in the locker room—-especially not a locker room with Dwight Howard—but from the courtside seats at Toyota Center his mother can hear him getting in the ears of Patrick Beverley and Josh Smith and Trevor Ariza. She remembers how coaches used to ask her why he wouldn’t take charge. Go to work, she’d have to tell him. “He’s like a different person,” Willis says. Predictably, Harden tops the NBA in win shares this season, but he also ranks eighth in defensive win shares and second in steals. He is locking down despite the departures of Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin, whose exits left Houston even more reliant on Harden. Sports Illustrated

February 18, 2015 Updates

Q: Do you resent the organization for trading James Harden? Kevin Durant: Do I resent the organization? Nah. Hell nah. Let's look at it this way. We won 60 games the year he was gone, we won 59 the next year. Had a few injuries, never know what would have happened. So not at all. Plus they signed me to a max deal (smiles). Oklahoman

Q: A lot of people on the outside looking in think that might be a factor in your decision next summer, the fact that they traded James and the talent hasn't been the same as in the past and you haven't been to the Finals since. What impact does that decision in 2012 make on your decision next summer? Kevin Durant: None. None. We're still a good team. Still a good team. Let's be real now. We'd still be up there if we didn't have injuries. If I wasn't out, if Russ wasn't out, we'd be up there. So don't act like we a bad team or we got worse. Nah, we had injuries. It's a part of the game and I understand that, not crying about it. But that's what happened. We lost Russell for a playoff series, we lost Serge for a playoff series. Stuff like that happens, but to say all because we lost James we didn't make it to the Finals. Everybody's going to have their opinion, especially with the time winding down and the summer coming up with me, but I love where I'm at right now and I'm just trying to focus on that every single day. Oklahoman

Jonathan Feigen: Source said today no progress on big names. RT @Matco78: @Jonathan Feigen what is your take on who the rockets probably will land via trade. Twitter @Jonathan_Feigen

Were the Thunder being loyal to Durant and his teammates when they traded James Harden, two and a half years ago, breaking up the best young core in the league in order to save a few luxury-tax dollars? Has the team ever really given Durant what he needs to win? Durant has been asked this question so many times he may not realize that he's begun answering it honestly. "Players are paid to do their jobs, no matter who's on the court. And as superstars, you gotta lead what you have. You gotta make them better. Some players might be better than others. Some teams might be better than others. You gotta do your job, and you gotta trust that the front office is going to do their job. It's hard, though. You know what I'm saying? Because it's like, shit, I want win. Obviously our players aren't as good as, you know, than they were before. But you have to figure it out." GQ.com

The Rockets, always a factor at the deadline, are aggressively pursuing a deal with Phoenix for point guard Goran Dragic, league sources say. Such a deal would likely center around Rockets guard Patrick Beverley; otherwise, Dragic, a prospective free agent, would be stuck in the same three-guard rotation that he finds himself involved with in Phoenix. While rival executives remain convinced that the Suns prefer to move Isaiah Thomas out of their three-headed backcourt, they may not have a choice. A league source confirmed that Dragic's agent, Bill Duffy, informed the Suns Tuesday night that he would not re-sign with Phoenix this summer. And the Rockets are not on Dragic's short list of teams to which he prefers to be traded, the source said. CBSSports.com



Average height of the main three players is 6-foot-10. It's truly a big man franchise.


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