Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey believes James Harden is a better scoring than NBA and Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan.

Harden is fresh off the best offensive season of his career after averaging 36.1 point and 7.5 assists in 78 appearances for a Rockets team who were dependent on his ability to draw fouls and crafty shot making.

The 2017-18 MVP led the NBA in scoring last season and tallied the league's highest points per game average since Jordan averaged 37.1 points during the 1986-87 season.

Most basketball fans agree that Jordan is the greatest of all time, but Morey would argue Harden has a leg up on the sport's most iconic player in one area.

"It's just factual that James Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan," Morey said on the 'Selfmade with Nadeshot' podcast.

Morey is the creator of Houston's analytics-based offensive system known as "Moreyball" and says statistics make him ranking Harden above Jordan logical.

"Based on literally, like you give James Harden the ball and before you're giving up the ball how many points do you generate? Which is how you should measure offense. James Harden is by far number one in NBA history," Morey said.

Harden has been an All-Star in each of his seven seasons with the Rockets, has led the league in possessions per game for the last three campaigns and has won the last two scoring titles. 

The argument for Jordan being the better offensive player stems from the fact that basketball has evolved. The game is faster, players shoot more and scoring is up. But Morey is holding onto his beliefs.

"The counterargument is reasonable," Morey said. "They say if you put Michael Jordan on a team now he would do more than James Harden. That's possible. But if you're just saying: 'NBA history, if you give this guy the ball, how much does his team score after you give him the ball before the other team gets the ball?' It's James Harden. And I know that makes people mad, but it's literally a fact."

The Rockets have had plenty of success in the regular season with Harden as the centrepiece but have yet to reach the NBA Finals during his time in Houston.

But the Rockets shipped off Chris Paul and an assortment of future draft picks to bring in the 2016-17 MVP in Russell Westbrook.

The Rockets have two elite, high-usage guards on their team, and Morey believes Harden alongside a triple-double machine like Westbrook can get Houston over the hump.

Russell Westbrook acknowledged the need for "sacrifice" as he and James Harden try to lead the Houston Rockets to an NBA championship.

Westbrook was acquired by the Rockets in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this month, which included future draft picks, pick swaps and Chris Paul leaving Houston.

The 2017 MVP, Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the third consecutive season in 2018-19, but he admits the path to success with a new team might require a different approach. Especially playing alongside his long-time friend and former Thunder team-mate Harden, who was the league's most valuable player in 2018.

Speaking during his introductory news conference on Friday, Westbrook told reporters: "Me and James have been friends for many, many years, since I was 10 actually.

"To be able to win something, you have to be able to sacrifice some parts of your game and we both understand that," Westbrook continued. "We both understand that we have one common goal and that's to win a championship.

"I don't have to touch the ball to impact the game... I can do other things on the floor to make sure we have a better chance of winning."

Westbrook and Harden both like to have the ball a lot. The duo are the only players in NBA history to exceed 40.0 in usage percentage, and now they will have to share a backcourt. They last played together in 2012-13, before Harden was traded to the Rockets.

Since then, both have been named MVP. Regardless, Westbrook is confident the two will can work well together in Houston.

"We play great off the ball with each other. We've done it in OKC," Westbrook said.

Westbrook elaborated on what else he brings to the table, besides orchestrating an offense.

"I think I can be able to help a lot on the rebounding end and switching and finding a way to get into the passing lanes," the 30-year-old added. "Maybe throw a few lobs to James if he's still got it. Figuring out a way to be able to just impact and use my athleticism."

He also addressed his health, as he underwent a procedure on his right knee in May.

"I'll be ready to go by training camp," Westbrook said. "I'm doing great. Taking my time. Resting as much as I can, because we're gon' go after it at the start of the season and I'll be ready to go."

All in all, Westbrook appears like he's prepared for the next chapter.

"I think it's a great opportunity to be able to bring a championship here to Houston," he said. "An opportunity to do great things, have some fun and I'm excited for it."

Chris Paul said he is "excited" to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder after being traded by the Houston Rockets.

Veteran guard Paul was dealt by the Rockets, along with multiple draft picks, to the Thunder as part of the Russell Westbrook trade earlier this month.

A nine-time NBA All-Star, Paul – who briefly played in Oklahoma City at the beginning of his career when the then-New Orleans Hornets were displaced by Hurricane Katrina – addressed the move in an Instagram post on Wednesday.

"So thankful to the city of Houston for all your generosity and kindness toward my family and me these past few years!" Paul wrote. "I'm truly blessed to have amazing fans who continue to support me throughout my career.

"I'm excited to be joining [the Thunder] next season and for this new opportunity to compete alongside my Thunder team-mates. I started my NBA career playing in Oklahoma City with the New Orleans Hornets and I look forward to returning!"

Oklahoma City were reportedly looking to flip Paul and had some initial discussions with the Miami Heat, but no deal materialised, and he is expected to begin the season with the team.

"Getting a player of Chris' calibre gives us another experienced playmaker and leader, while the additional draft picks continue to allow us to further commit to the long-term vision that we are embarking on for the Thunder," general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. 

"We welcome Chris back to Oklahoma City where as a member of the Hornets he helped to pave the way for the Thunder's arrival in OKC."

The Thunder are expected to enter a major rebuild after moving Westbrook, Paul George and Jerami Grant in July.

James Harden insists there is no bad blood between him and Chris Paul.

The Houston Rockets star was rumoured to have had enough of Paul following their second-round playoff exit at the hands of the Golden State Warriors in May.

Some reports stated Harden would not answer Paul's phone calls after last season and claimed the duo's relationship was "unsalvageable."

Paul has since been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, with Russell Westbrook coming the other way in a blockbuster deal.

However, Harden told reporters on Saturday that speculation of friction between him and Paul was not accurate.

"It was a lot of false talk," Harden said. "Obviously as team-mates, as competitors we argue on the court. You have your disagreements on the court. Your arguments on the court. But that's just part of basketball. Everybody has that. No matter what level of basketball you're in.

"All the negative media stuff and all the stuff that was running, it wasn't true. Me and Chris had constant communication and you know, we're good."

With Paul now out of the picture, Harden is set for a reunion with Westbrook, who he played alongside in Oklahoma City from 2009-12 before being traded to the Rockets.

Harden led the NBA in scoring with 36.1 points per game while Westbrook averaged a triple-double for a third straight year in 2018-19.

"I'm excited for this opportunity," Harden said. "It's a new chapter, but I know he's [Westbrook] excited."

 

James Harden says he will not need to make any changes for new team-mate Russell Westbrook when the pair are reunited at the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets completed a blockbuster trade for Westbrook this week, giving the Rockets two of the last three NBA MVPs on their roster.

Harden played with the new arrival at the Oklahoma City Thunder between 2009 and 2012 and is already confident about how their rekindled partnership will work out in a loaded Western Conference.

So much so, he insists nothing will need to change in his game to make the Rockets successful after Westbrook's move.

"None. None. None," he told reporters at an Adidas and James Harden ProCamp event when asked what adjustments would be needed.

"We played with each other in the NBA and the Olympics and all that. When you have talent like that, it works itself out. You communicate. You go out there and compete possession by possession. 

"You figure things out throughout the course of the season. That's just what it is. When you have talent, you have guys with IQ, you have guys willing to sacrifice, it always works itself out.

"It's that trust factor. I trust him; he trusts me. With the group that we already have and the things we already accomplished, it should be an easy transition for him to be incorporated right in, and things are going to go."

Chris Paul, whose relationship with Harden reportedly soured last season, two protected first-round draft selections and two pick swaps were sent to the Thunder to secure Westbrook's arrival.

"I'm excited for this opportunity," added Harden. "It's a new chapter, but I know he's excited. 

"He's been in Oklahoma City for 11 years so it's a new chapter for him. We welcome him with open arms. It's going to work.

"That's my boy right there, since I was like 10 or 11 years old. Obviously, we were team-mates for years. Now, we're at different stages of our careers. I hear a lot of negative things, 'You can't, he can't, they can't'. But we'll figure it out."

The Rockets lost out in six games to the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs last season, having gone 53-29 to claim the fourth seed in the West.

James Harden has joined MLS club Houston Dynamo's ownership group.

The Dynamo announced on Thursday that the Houston Rockets superstar had become part of the group led by Gabriel Brener, also owners of the NWSL's Houston Dash.

Harden, arguably the face of Houston sports and winner of the NBA MVP award in 2018, joins six-weight world champion Oscar De La Hoya in the group.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future," Harden said in a statement.

"Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, have exploded in this country throughout my lifetime.

"I've been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose."

"We are thrilled to welcome James into our club. He's an icon in the Houston community, and not only is he a great basketball player, he has an extremely smart and savvy mind for business," Brener said.

"James will bring a very unique perspective to our ownership group, and I'm looking forward to hearing his thoughts and opinions on the club going forward."

Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti said Russell Westbrook is the "most important player" in the NBA team's history following his trade to the Houston Rockets.

On Tuesday, the Thunder announced they had finalised the trade that sent Westbrook to Houston in exchange for two future first-round selections, two pick swaps and Chris Paul.

Westbrook, who spent his first 11 seasons with the franchise, will "always remain part of the Thunder family", Presti said.

"Russell Westbrook is the most important player in the brief history of the Oklahoma City Thunder," Presti said in a statement.

"He has left an indelible mark on this team, city and state. None of us could have anticipated the player he has become, and we are all deeply proud of what he has contributed to the success of the franchise and to our community."

Westbrook was the second top-level player the Thunder sent away this offseason. They moved Paul George — who finished third in the MVP voting in 2018-19 — to the Los Angeles Clippers and received five first-round selections, two pick swaps, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari in return.

The Thunder then dealt forward Jerami Grant to the Denver Nuggets for another first-round pick.

"We recently had conversations with Russell about the team, his career, and how he sees the future," Presti said. "Through those conversations we came to the understanding that looking at some alternative situations would be something that made sense for him. As a result, and due to his history with the Thunder, we worked together to accommodate this.

"Our ability to have these types of conversations and work so closely with Russell and his agent Thad Foucher is only possible because of the depth of the relationship that has been built over the last 11 years."

The deal reunites Westbrook with James Harden in Houston. The pair played together with the Thunder from 2009-12.

The Thunder could look to trade veteran guard Paul again before the start of 2019-20.

James Harden and Russell Westbrook will "make it work" at the Houston Rockets, insisted head coach Mike D'Antoni.

The Rockets acquired Westbrook in a blockbuster trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, reuniting the 2017 NBA MVP with Harden.

Harden and Westbrook like to control the ball but D'Antoni is confident the latter will fit into Houston's line-up without any drastic changes to accommodate the All-Stars.

"We're not changing much," D'Antoni said on the The Woj Pod while discussing the addition of Westbrook. "We'll tweak it, but to say you've gotta change and you can't win that way, that's B.S."

Some critics believe the Rockets do not spread the ball around enough and play too much isolation.

Now, some are questioning whether it will be even more challenging to play that type of offense with both Harden and Westbrook, who are two ball-dominant players, on the court.

D'Antoni, however, does not think it will be a problem because the two want to play together, and they previously teamed up in Oklahoma City.

"They’ll make it work," D'Antoni said. "Do we sometimes go too much one-on-one? Yeah. Do we sometimes iso or not move enough? Yeah, we do sometimes. But I can also make the argument that sometimes teams over-pass. You try to find the balance of what is best for your players."

D'Antoni explained the Rockets will find what works best for both players to maximise their talents.

"I will start looking now at tape and trying to figure out the dynamics between the two and how they played in Oklahoma City and how it's changed since then, in the Olympics," D'Antoni said.

"But it's exciting. Whenever you have great talent, it's exciting because it gives you a chance to win, and that's what we all want to do. But it'll be my job to maximise their talents and what they do best, and it should be really good.

"I saw it in USA Basketball. You put [the stars] all together and they want to make it work, it doesn't matter. The more talent you have, the better it is. And I think right now with this duo and other people, it'll work. Now, to what degree, we'll see."

Russell Westbrook paid tribute to the Oklahoma City Thunder after being traded to the Houston Rockets.

After being drafted as the fourth overall pick in 2008 by the then-Seattle SuperSonics, Westbrook spent his entire career in Oklahoma City after the team moved before his first official year.

Westbrook won the MVP in 2017, averaged a triple-double each of his past two seasons and made eight All-Star teams.

He was traded by the Thunder to the Rockets on Thursday in a package for Chris Paul.

But, Westbrook has good memories with the Thunder and he penned a heartfelt goodbye on Instagram on Friday.

"I can't even begin to put into words all of the emotions I have right now," he wrote.

"It's been one heck of a journey Oklahoma! When I came here, I was 18 years old, bright eyed, and completely unaware of all the amazing things that would soon take place.

"I grew up in Oklahoma with an amazing bunch of people. The people here are what makes this place so special. From the fans, my coaches, my team-mates, the entire Thunder organisation, Mr. Bennett, Sam Presti, my friends, and everyone in the entire community. You are all what makes Oklahoma such a beautiful place, and the reason I've loved playing here all of this time.

"You have supported me through all of the ups and the downs, and stood by me through the good times, and tough times. For that I am eternally grateful to you. I've met so many amazing people who have helped shape me into the man that I am today.

"I hope I have impacted the Oklahoma community as much as Oklahoma has made an impact on me and my family. I'm leaving Oklahoma with so many friends and so much gratitude. I could never thank you all enough for sticking with me. It's been a dream and a whirlwind. #WHYNOT."

Westbrook rejoins former team-mate James Harden in Houston after the two played the 2009 to 2012 seasons together in Oklahoma City.

Rockets star James Harden expects to have "a lot of fun" alongside Russell Westbrook in Houston.

The Rockets acquired the 2017 NBA MVP from the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday in exchange for Chris Paul, protected first-round draft picks in 2024 and 2026, and the rights to swap picks in two other drafts.

Harden, who played his first three NBA seasons in Oklahoma City with Westbrook, is pleased to be reunited with his old team-mate.

"When I left OKC I was sad," Harden said on Friday, via The Athletic.

"Then Houston made a home for me. Rockets is my home. And now an opportunity came available where Russ wasn't happy. Now we're back. It's going to be a lot of fun this year, I guarantee you that."

According to the Houston Chronicle, Harden and Westbrook "strongly favoured the move and a chance to play in a backcourt together".

Now, it is up to head coach Mike D'Antoni to build the offense around the two NBA MVPs, an award Harden won in 2018.

Trading Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook makes the Houston Rockets a better team, says franchise owner Tilman Fertitta.

According to ESPN, the Rockets have sent Chris Paul and two protected first-rounders in 2024 and 2026 to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2017 NBA MVP. They have also agreed to swap draft picks in 2021 and 2025.

Eight-time All-Star Westbrook, who has averaged a triple-double in each of the past three seasons, sought an exit from the Thunder after they traded Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Westbrook and Harden helped Oklahoma City reach the 2012 NBA Finals and Fertitta is relishing watching their reunion unfold.

"We're excited to have Russell Westbrook," Fertitta told Fox 26 in Houston.

"I would watch him play for Oklahoma City, and he's so athletic. At the same time this franchise just had the two years with the most wins it's ever had in consecutive years, and we wouldn't have accomplished that without Chris Paul.

"I said at the end of the year we're never gonna stand pat. We're always gonna try to get better. I think this makes us a better team. I hate to lose Chris Paul, but we felt like we did what we had to do to become a better team.

"I think it'll be very interesting and fun. James and Russell wanted to play together. It ought to be fun this year."

It has been suggested the Thunder could immediately look to move Paul on, with the Miami Heat, who were believed to be in the running to get Westbrook, touted as a potential destination.

Trading Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook makes the Houston Rockets a better team, says franchise owner Tilman Fertitta.

According to ESPN, the Rockets have sent Chris Paul and two protected first-rounders in 2024 and 2026 to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2017 NBA MVP. They have also agreed to swap draft picks in 2021 and 2025.

Eight-time All-Star Westbrook, who has averaged a triple-double in each of the past three seasons, sought an exit from the Thunder after they traded Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Westbrook and Harden helped Oklahoma City reach the 2012 NBA Finals and Fertitta is relishing watching their reunion unfold.

"We're excited to have Russell Westbrook," Fertitta told Fox 26 in Houston.

"I would watch him play for Oklahoma City, and he's so athletic. At the same time this franchise just had the two years with the most wins it's ever had in consecutive years, and we wouldn't have accomplished that without Chris Paul.

"I said at the end of the year we're never gonna stand pat. We're always gonna try to get better. I think this makes us a better team. I hate to lose Chris Paul, but we felt like we did what we had to do to become a better team.

"I think it'll be very interesting and fun. James and Russell wanted to play together. It ought to be fun this year."

It has been suggested the Thunder could immediately look to move Paul on, with the Miami Heat, who were believed to be in the running to get Westbrook, touted as a potential destination.

Chris Paul is reportedly a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. But, there is a chance he is with another organisation at some point in the near future.

Oklahoma City acquired the 34-year-old guard, along with two first-round selections and two pick swaps, from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Russell Westbrook, according to a report from ESPN on Thursday.

Paul is a nine-time NBA All-Star and one of the best point guards to ever play. All that is missing from his resume is a championship, which he undoubtedly wants to be chasing in the twilight of his career. The Thunder may not be the team for him, as they appear set to enter a rebuild after moving not only Westbrook, but Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers) and Jerami Grant (Denver Nuggets).

The Thunder tried to find a third team to move Paul to in the deal, according to ESPN, and his future remains unclear.

The Thunder are likely to consult with Paul to find out "what he wants", according to a separate report from ESPN. Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti has already spoken to Paul's agent Leon Rose, that report says.

Oklahoma City completed the deal with the hopes of Paul being part of the team, according to The Athletic.

But, Paul, his agent and Presti will speak again about next steps. The Thunder would have interest in completing a deal with the Miami Heat, if that is what Paul prefers. Paul would be teamed up with Jimmy Butler in Miami, who were also reportedly pursuing Westbrook.  

Paul struggled with injuries and had a down season in 2018-19, but he is still a valuable floor leader and scorer, despite his massive contract (three years, $124.1million).

He has a chance to help mentor the Thunder's new, young core — including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — or he could become a contributor elsewhere, on a team with more of a chance to win a title.

The Oklahoma City Thunder roster underwent a complete overhaul in less than a week.

Oklahoma City completed their third major trade when they sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets in exchange for two future first-round selections, two pick swaps and Chris Paul, according to the ESPN on Thursday.

Westbrook was the second top-level player the Thunder dealt away this offseason. They moved Paul George — who finished third in the MVP voting in 2018-19 — to the Los Angeles Clippers and received five first-round selections, two pick swaps, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari in return.

The Thunder then sent forward Jerami Grant to the Denver Nuggets for another first-round pick.

In the blink of an eye, the Thunder went from a team that seemed to have championship aspirations to a franchise entering a rebuild. Oklahoma City finished with a 49-33 record last season, had two stars on their roster long term and some solid surrounding talent around them, including Grant, Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder.

George, however, forced the Thunder's hand after he reportedly asked to be dealt in hopes of teaming up with Kawhi Leonard and the pair ended up together in Los Angeles.

After that trade, the Thunder needed to move in a different direction and they did quite well for themselves.

Oklahoma City acquired eight first-round picks over the last week and they should have the opportunity to draft plenty of young, controllable players to replenish their rotation. The team could also elect to package some of those picks in a deal for a different star, should one become available.

But, that is not all the Thunder added. Gilgeous-Alexander is a promising guard with plenty of upside. He could develop into a more than adequate replacement for Westbrook, with a much better contract.

Gallinari is a reliable three-and-D player on an expiring deal. If the Thunder elect to hold onto him, he will be a consistent contributor. If not, there is a good chance they can flip him for another pick or young player.

Paul, meanwhile, is a nine-time All-Star who still provides value as a scorer and distributor, despite the massive amount of money remaining on his contract (three years, $124.1million). He could still receive interest on the trade market and Oklahoma City could acquire additional assets if they decide to move him again.

Despite losing some of the league's biggest names, Thunder general manager Sam Presti has set his team up to be competitive in the future.

The NBA world was shocked again on Thursday as the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder reportedly completed a blockbuster trade involving Russell Westbrook.

According to ESPN, the Rockets sent Chris Paul and draft picks to the Thunder in exchange for 2017 NBA MVP Westbrook.

This is a huge deal for the Western Conference as Houston boasts a similar team to what they had last season but became younger and more athletic in the process.

Rockets fans can dream about the potential of this tandem, however it is not an idea that is foreign. In fact, we have seen this combination before as Harden and Westbrook were drafted by the Thunder and played together from 2009-12 and made an NBA Finals alongside Kevin Durant in their last season together.

So, what did those teams look like in Oklahoma City? They looked great, we will tell you that.

With Westbrook, the Thunder had a high-energy point guard who was unstoppable going to the rim and a terror on defense. With Durant, Oklahoma City had the player who could get any shot he wanted and presented a mismatch every time he was on the court. Harden was the sixth man for that team as he provided a solid scoring option and a better defender than people may remember (he was given the job of guarding LeBron James in the 2012 NBA Finals for long stretches).

On March 23, 2012 – the three combined to score 110 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Harden and Westbrook totalled 70.

As good as they were as a team, though, a lot of people did not take them seriously. That was until they dominated the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. After losing the first two games, they came back to win the last four by an average of nearly 10 points (9.75).

In that series, the big three dominated as Westbrook averaged 18.1 points, 7.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds, Harden put up 18.5, 5.5 and 3.6 while Durant added 29.5, 5.3 and 7.5. This was the team to beat for years to come.

They wound up losing to the Miami Heat in the Finals in five games, but they won the opener, and had it not been for a missed foul call in the waning moments of Game 2, the Thunder might have taken a 2-0 series lead and then, who knows?

This team was the Golden State Warriors before the Warriors and Harden and Westbrook were huge parts of that. It looked like it was going to be a dynasty for years to come in the west, but that was until Harden was due for an extension and more money.

Ultimately, the Thunder did not pay Harden and he was dealt to Houston along with Daequan Cook, Cole Aldrich and Lazar Hayward in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks (which became Steven Adams in 2013 and Mitch McGary in 2014), and a second-round pick (which became Alex Abrines in 2013).

Harden then went on to win an MVP with Houston in 2018, Westbrook won it with the Thunder in 2017 and Durant earned the honour in 2014. Now, two of those players are back together. Durant is the only one to have a title (he won two with the Warriors), but Westbrook and Harden can see if they can get one they so highly covet.

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