GILBERT, Ariz. — The Houston Rockets have two-thirds of their own Big Three with James Harden and the newly acquired Chris Paul. The Rockets also were reportedly in the mix to acquire New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony in a trade.
Harden called Anthony “one of the best players that we have in this league” during a break from a basketball camp he hosted Friday in a suburb of Phoenix. But ultimately, Harden said acquiring Anthony would be up to the Rockets brass.
“I let the front office deal with that,” Harden said. “If we can get him, obviously he would help our team tremendously. What we have right now in our locker room is pretty good.”
The chances of the Harden-Anthony-Paul trio coming to fruition took a hit on Thursday.
The Knicks took Anthony off the trading block, according to a report by ESPN NBA Insiders Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne. Talks between the Knicks and the Rockets, as well as the Cleveland Cavaliers, had been ongoing for nearly a month. Anthony was willing to waive his no-trade clause for either team.
Harden, like the rest of the NBA, is in wait-and-see mode.
“That’s out of my hands,” Harden said. “I go out there and put the basketball in the hoop and handle my business.”
Harden’s business now includes building chemistry with Paul, who was traded to Houston by the LA Clippers on June 28. Harden said a workout with Paul earlier this week was “really good, really good. Our entire team was there, and it went really well.”
It didn’t take Harden long during informal practices to figure out the benefits of playing alongside Paul.
“Obviously, we all know how smart he is. He sees things before they happen,” Harden said. “And when you got a guy like that on your team, it makes you step your game up even more.”
Harden insisted, however, that the addition of Paul in Houston won’t change anything for longtime Rockets guard.
“It doesn’t,” Harden said. “It’s added another talented Hall of Famer, soon to be, and when you got great talent and great IQ around you, it makes it easier for yourself and your teammates.”
Harden has led the Rockets to five straight playoff appearances since he was traded to Houston from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, including the Western Conference semifinals last season and the conference finals in 2015. With the Golden State Warriors coming off their second title in three years and showing few signs of rescinding their reign in the West, Harden sees Paul as another step toward the Rockets unseating the defending champs.
“It’s important,” he said. “I think the Warriors set a standard, and I think everybody’s trying to get to that standard and compete with them.”