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The Daily Blast – February 15, 2013

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?

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Huq’s Pen: All-Star Weekend

I’m about to leave in an hour or so to check out some of the All-Star events.  The Rising Stars teams will be holding practice with media availability ensuing thereafter.

Perhaps I’m proving closer to 67 rather than my actual age of 27, but save for perhaps the real game itself, I’m not really looking too forward to any of this weekend’s events.  While the profit model certainly isn’t flawed, I think that if the NBA wants to reconnect with its older generation of fans–meaning anyone above 13–it needs to rethink its strategy because the layout for All-Star Weekend has grown horrifically stale.

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So this was interesting, via ESPN:

I’m told a Gordon trade this season is highly unlikely, with one source with knowledge of the situation telling ESPN.com this week that, as things stand, there’s “less than a 10 percent chance” New Orleans would move Gordon before the deadline. Still, the fact that the Hornets made calls around the league implies that they are at least warming up to the idea of moving him at some point.

Word is Dallas, Houston and Golden State are among the teams that have inquired about him. Houston envisions playing him alongside James Harden and Jeremy Lin in its fast-paced system, with Harden at small forward.

Of course, both Houston and Dallas view Gordon as Plan B. Both clubs are saving their max cap room this summer to make a run at the disgruntled one, Dwight Howard. If that falls through, the loser(s) will turn their eyes to Gordon, among others.

Gordon is only one of the many options Houston would consider if it can’t land Howard. Several executives have said the Rockets have interest in Philadelphia’s Andrew Bynum, assuming Bynum returns from his knee injury for a significant chunk of the season’s second half and plays up to his typical All-Star form. That might be a big assumption, though, with Bynum’s recent comments about still suffering pain in his knee.

Whatever the case, the Rockets aren’t expected to be as active next week as they typically are around the deadline because of their desire to save their cap space for the summer. I’m told they’re not in play for Zach Randolph, Danny Granger or Pau Gasol, as has been often rumored.

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Who is James Harden?

We are now at the halfway mark of the first year of the James Harden era in Houston.  The sample we have is now sufficiently sizable to assess our return on the trade and forecast future expectations.

After 53 games in red, the 23-year-old Harden is now averaging 26.1 points per game (#5 in the league), 5.7 assists per game, and 4.8 rebounds per game, while posting a PER of 23.4.  He’s found a second burst, in February averaging 27.8 points per game on 53% shooting, to go along with 7.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.  All of this has come in the process of leading his team to a spot where, by Hollinger’s odds, they are a virtual certainty to return to the postseason.

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