James Harden’s busy offseason is nearly over, and now it is time to get down to business in the form of the 2017-2018 campaign. The Houston Rockets enter the season with massive expectations and, even in the midst of ongoing buzz about Carmelo Anthony’s potential exodus from New York on the way to join Harden and Chris Paul, the reigning NBA MVP runner-up seems focused on the task at hand.
In fact, Harden visited with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith on ESPN’s SC6 on Tuesday and he was prompted about both the chatter about Anthony and his relationship with Paul.
With regard to Anthony, it is clear that Harden isn’t focused (at least outwardly) on the vague possibility of adding a third star.
“I try to block it out. I let the front office, (Rockets GM) Daryl Morey and (Rockets CEO) Tad Brown deal with that stuff. I’m just trying to focus on getting comfortable with CP. We’ve been building some good bond time this summer. I think we’re both excited for this season.”
From there, Harden expanded quite a bit on what he expects the impact of Paul’s arrival to be and, unsurprisingly given that he helped to recruit the All-NBA point guard, Harden’s expectations are quite high about the fit despite questions.
“I think we’ve both been so ball dominant these last few years, we’ll get a lot of catch-and-shoot opportunities. We gotta keep telling ourselves when we’re open, just shoot the ball. We’ve been doing that so far in these pickup games. Once we get comfortable with each other, he’s very smart. I’m smart. It will work itself out.”
Beyond that, Harden framed the addition of Paul through the prism of attempting to chase down the Golden State Warriors, indicating they are the “one team” that the Rockets are trying “to go get” this season.
“We’ve got the same goal. We’re both trying to win. There’s one team out there that’s winning. They’ve been to the Finals three years in a row. They won two out of three. One team to compete against. One team to try to go get. We’re both on the same page with that.”
It certainly isn’t a surprise to hear Harden prioritizing the Warriors and, while the fit might not be immediately flawless, adding a transcendent talent in the form of Paul is probably a good way to do that. Houston could certainly use another influx of talent, whether in Anthony or otherwise, but they already have perhaps the most intriguing roster when matched up against Golden State and Harden has (very) high hopes for the backcourt and the team overall.