Russell Westbrook Says He and James Harden Will ‘Play Great Off the Ball’

Russell Westbrook is confident that he and fellow superstar teammate James Harden will happily co-exist in Houston next season.

Westbrook says the two dominant offensive machines are “great” at playing off the ball with one another.

Russ adds that he’ll bring a lot more to the table for the Rockets than just scoring and handling the rock.

Per The Athletic:

At the start of the offseason, Harden communicated to the front office that he liked the idea of playing with Westbrook, league sources told The Athletic.

“I think we play great off the ball with each other,” Westbrook told The Athletic.

“We’ve done it in Oklahoma City. Many times in Oklahoma City, James, he closed the game as the primary ball-handler, and I played off the ball. It’s totally fine for me because, like I have said before, offensively and scoring and having the ball in my hands is not the only thing I can do for the game. I do a lot of great things for the game and I look forward to doing that with this team as well.”

Team sources have expressed confidence in that Westbrook and Harden will both implement more off-ball movement into their games, particularly in a half-court setting, and were pleased with Westbrook’s comments during his introductory press conference.

Related James Harden: ‘I Know How to Play With Russ and He Knows How to Play With Me’

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PJ Tucker: ‘It’s Time for My Extension Right Now’

PJ Tucker is “optimistic” about re-upping in Houston.

“It’s time for my extension right now,” says the 34-year-old veteran forward.

Tucker adds that he’s confident the Rockets will smoothly transition from Chris Paul to newcomer Russell Westbrook next season.

Per The Athletic:

“We lost a great player, we got a great player,” Tucker said. “We got a lot of guys back. We still got a core of our team. You know, it is what it is. It’s the NBA, changes are made. All you do is look at yourself and your teammates, keep your eyes on the next season and try to go after it, so now I plan to do that this year.”

“I’ma do what I do, man. I’ll help Russ in any way I can. I’m gonna be one of the leaders on the team, (especially) defensively. I’m just gonna do me, I’m gonna do what I do every single night to the best of my ability.”

As far as his long-term future with Houston, both Tucker and the team want him to stick around. This season is the last fully guaranteed year he has on the four-year, $32 million deal he signed in 2016. With 2020-21 only partially guaranteed, Tucker wants his future sorted out sooner, rather than later.

“It’s now,” he said of getting a new deal done. “It’s time for my extension right now, so we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. I’m optimistic, we’ll see.”

Related PJ Tucker: Rockets ‘Were a Hamstring Away from Having a Championship’

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PJ Tucker: Houston Rockets ‘Were a Hamstring Away from Having a Championship’

PJ Tucker says Houston has a “chance to compete for a championship” this season, and that they were “a hamstring away” from winning it all when Chris Paul went down in the 2018 Western Conference Finals.

The veteran forward believes the NBA title race is “wide open this year.”

Tucker, 34, adds that he vehemently disagrees with the widely-held assumption that James Harden and new superstar Rockets teammate Russell Westbrook “can’t work together.”

Per The WaPo:

“I hate when people talk about certain guys and say they can’t work together,” Tucker said. “It may not work with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard [on the Los Angeles Clippers]. It may not work with Anthony Davis and LeBron James [on the Los Angeles Lakers]. It may not work with anybody.

“[Westbrook] is another super aggressive guy who can attack the rim and score the ball. That opens everything up for everyone else. [Harden and Westbrook] know each other’s games. They’ve played together when they were young, and they’re excited to play together again. If they’re excited, I’m excited.”

That trek left him appreciating what Houston accomplished with Harden and Paul rather than dwelling on the partnership’s abrupt ending.

“We were a hamstring away from having a championship,” Tucker said, referring to Paul’s ill-timed injury in the 2018 Western Conference finals against Golden State. “You can rate it how you want and say what you want, but it was a great run. We won a franchise-record [65 games in 2017-18]. The [decision to trade Paul] is something that’s over my pay grade. I just play.”

Related PJ Tucker: Houston Rockets Drama ‘Fake News’

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The Summer 2019 Men’s Basketball World Cup Training Camp roster:

Joe Harris, Jaylen Brown, PJ Tucker, Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Marcus Smart, Harrison Barnes, Thaddeus Young, De’Aaron Fox, Kyle Lowry, Khris Middleton, Kyle Kuzma, Myles Turner, Brook Lopez, Bam Adebayo, Mason Plumlee, Jayson Tatum.

12 players will make the roster of the 17! 🔥🇺🇸

PJ Tucker: Houston Rockets Drama ‘Fake News’

According to PJ Tucker, reports of discontent in Houston are merely “fake news.”

Tucker insists that co-stars James Harden and Chris Paul remain on the same page, and that everyone is focused on winning an elusive NBA championship.

The Rockets’ front-office, meanwhile, is reportedly shopping what seems like everyone on the roster but Harden with free agency looming.

Per The Athletic:

As a leader in the locker room, tell me about James and Chris. You can’t speak for them, but…

Tucker: “No, but I’m sick of the fake news man. It’s fake. Everybody – I argue with Chris and James more than Chris and James argue.”

Fine, but Game 6 (against the Warriors): How hot was it (afterward)?

Tucker: “It was what it was. Everybody’s mad. Everybody’s pissed. You can’t – I’m sick of all the highlight of whoever this person is trying to come up with all this crap, like I argue with Chris and James more than Chris and James argue with each other. Like, I’m the center, focal (point) of the argument because I’m always yelling at somebody and they’re yelling at me. So for me, it’s like ‘If you’re not arguing…’ You don’t think Kobe (Bryant) and Shaq (O’Neal) argued? Hakeem (Olajuwon) and…”

But that’s a tough comparison though, right? There’s a threshold there. Kobe and Shaq reached a point where it wouldn’t work anymore.

Tucker: “Nah, but guess what? They won championships together. Right? And that’s what people care about, right? That’s what we talking about, right? Nah, but we’re talking about winning championships, right? So that’s all that matters. To win a championship. That’s it. Nothing else matters. If we win a championship together and we fucking hate each other, then guess what? Who cares? (Laughs) Nobody. Right, so that’s all that matters. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Winning a championship. Everything else is failure.

Related Chris Paul: ‘I Never Demanded a Trade’

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The 2019 LeagueFits All-Drip Teams are STACKED

There’s an ancient proverb that says, “You look good, you feel good. You feel good, you play good. You play good, they pay good.”

It’s a proverb that rings its truth every day in the NBA.

Players around the League stepped up their game in the tunnel this season, so we added on a third team. It’s important to recognize progress, too, so we also mixed in a most-improved award to show love to the hooper who stepped up his tunnel walk the most in 2018-2019.

Anyways, we can skip to what you’re here for: This year’s LeagueFits All-Drip Teams and Awards.

THIRD TEAM: Dwayne Bacon, Ben Simmons, Dennis Schroder, Jordan Clarkson, Serge Ibaka

Three players made their All-Drip debuts in Dwayne Bacon, Ben Simmons and Dennis Schroder.

SECOND TEAM: Terry Rozier, Tobias Harris, Kevin Love, Kyle Kuzma, Mike Scott

Kyle Kuzma built upon his Rookie of the Year award from a year ago by making the jump to the Second Team. Tobias Harris and Mike Scott also made their All-Drip debuts.

FIRST TEAM: Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kelly Oubre, PJ Tucker, Shai GIlgeous-Alexander

No surprises here. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander became the first rookie in LeaugeFits history to make an All-Drip Team.

MOST-IMPROVED: Dennis Schroder

One time for the #EuroDrip icon.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

No one rook should have all this power.

MVP: Kelly Oubre

Waves never die.

Ian Pierno is an Associate Social Media Editor and Drip Director at SLAM. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

Pat Bonoan is a Graphic Designer at SLAM. Follow him on Instagram.

Photos via Getty Images.

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Rockets Owner: ‘We’re Going to Win Some Championships With James Harden’

Houston is “going to win some championships with James Harden,” vowed Rockets owner Tim Fertitta after his team’s season came to an end Friday night.

Harden and the Rockets are headed home for the summer, after being eliminated in six games by the two-time NBA defending champion Golden State Warriors.

“They just outplayed us,” concluded Chris Paul.

Per The Houston Chronicle

“It always hurts, knowing that we had opportunities,” guard James Harden said. “Very, very frustrating. Going to let it sink in a little bit. Find ways to be better.

“We let a lot of opportunities slip away; opportunities in the last game, opportunities in Games 1 and 2. If you don’t take advantage of the opportunities, you end up on the losing side.”

That realization will anguish the Rockets as much as any of the ways they had come up short against the Warriors before. But by Friday’s finish the difference had become clear.

“There were times where we can make some big plays and got a little separated (but) just couldn’t make the big play,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “You know, a big shot or a big steal. They’re champions.

“This one’s going to leave a mark. This is not just something you get over. I’m definitely not going to get over it in this press conference or tomorrow or the next night. This one hurt. We didn’t play our best and to beat these guys, you have to play your best.”

Related Steve Kerr: Rockets ‘Got a Lot of Middle Linebackers on That Team’

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