James All-Starden – The Beard scored 15 points, snatched six rebounds, and dropped three dimes while playing 26 minutes his All-Star game debut. It was not an MVP-level performance (hey CP3), but it was definitely more than a cameo (solid six minutes, KG). Also, in the midst of the oceans of electronic ink used in telling the stories of the All-Stars this weekend, Fran Blinebury’s profile of Harden floated to the top. After pointing out that Harden leads the league in three point plays, the article examines his unique style of drawing fouls:
“Carmelo and LeBron are bigger guys who can get to the basket and get fouled,” McHale said. “Derrick Rose protects the ball and absorbs the body blows. But James just has a unique ability to extend it out there and stay under control.”
Harden shakes his head and laughs.
“I do challenge people,” he said. “A lot of guys are tempted with me putting the ball out. They think they can steal it. If they don’t, it’s gonna be a foul. But I understand why they do it. It’s right there. I have no idea where that came from. I just picked it up one day and it stuck.”
Another interesting quote from Harden touches on his recruiting efforts:
From the Houston Chronicle:
“His contract is up next year, I believe,” Alexander said on Saturday. “We’ll re-up him. Daryl knows that I judge him all the time. I’ve told him. He’s not shy about it, either. He just knows that’s the way I operate. Why wouldn’t I? The general manager is the one person in your organization you can really judge. He can make good moves or bad moves. This year, I think he’s made three terrific moves.”
Those moves would be the trade for Harden and the signing of Asik and Lin. Les Alexander’s statement shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Read into it what you will, but Dwight Howard sounds very high on Houston. From the Dream Shake:
During media availability, when Dwight Howard was asked about joining the Houston Rockets, he had a surprising answer.
“I like their team to be honest with you,” Howard said when discussing the Rockets. “They’re a great team. They’re young. They play hard. They’re scrappy. They play together. Everything they do has been great. It’s fun to watch them.”
Tradewatch – Under the wet-blanket category, Daryl Morey has told USA Today he’s not expecting to make a big move:
“Most likely, it’s not going to be through trade,” Morey told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. “Most likely, it’s going to be through the use of our cap room where we have max room this summer.
“I think (the time between now and the deadline) is going to be quiet. Of course a year ago, if you would’ve said, ‘James Harden – what about him?’ I would’ve said, ‘No way. They won’t trade him.’ You never know. You stay opportunistic. But I would guess that this trade deadline is going to be quiet.”
Dark Horse – The Basketball Jones has an eye on Harden surprising us in his first All-Star game. First, they point out in their predictions podcast that Vegas has him at 14-1 odds to be the game’s MVP. They also have him in their top 10 subplots from the weekend:
9. Which of the first-timers will separate from the pack in the All-Star Game? Assuming there are no further injury replacements, there will be seven first-time All-Stars in Houston this year, at least one of whom will likely put forth a concerted effort to prove they belong with the perennials. Six of those first-timers are in the East, but the odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Game honors might be the one guy in the West, hometown favorite and electric scorer James Harden. Don’t count out Kyrie Irving and Jrue Holiday in the East, though. Somebody’s gotta play point guard at some point for that team, right? Or is Erik Spoelstra gonna innovate the Five Bigs lineup just to prove that he hasn’t become reliant on small ball?