Our interview with Houston Rockets broadcaster and former player Matt Bullard
Knight: Switching gears a bit, what do you think about the contracts that Chris Paul and Clint Capela got this summer?
Bullard: I was really happy that they both re-signed with the Rockets. I didn’t expect them to go anywhere else. Locking Chris up for four years is great for him, he’s gonna have a huge payday, but it’s also good for the Rockets that they didn’t give him five years. Once you get past 35 years old, physically, it does change. Chris is going to be a very effective player late into his 30s but the fact that he got a four-year deal is a lot more friendly to the Rockets.
Clint Capela got a huge payday. It’s not on-par with Rudy Gobert and some of the other guys that play his position, but Clint still got a ton of money. He’s in a position that is perfect for him on a team that plays him to his strengths. He plays exactly the way the Rockets want to play on both ends of the floor. I could see Clint Capela really taking off in these next four years and being an All-Star.
Knight: What does Harden need to do to continue to stay focused and improve as a player after winning the MVP? Hakeem did pretty well in that aspect, to say the least, after winning the award in 1994.
Bullard: That’s the example that I look to, Hakeem. The Rockets won the championship in ’94, that was Hakeem’s tenth year. Hakeem had already had a lot of individual success and then in his tenth year, the Rockets were able to put a team around him to space the floor and make threes and defend everything. That’s the same path that I see James on as he’s had tremendous individual success, a 65-win season last year, and an MVP.
Now what’s left is to win a championship. He’s in his tenth year, and that’s the same year that Hakeem Olajuwon won his first championship. I see the same mentality in James that I saw in Hakeem where every summer, Hakeem would come back with a different part of his game that was perfected, that was polished. I see the same thing with Harden, every year he comes back he’s got something new. He added the step back three to his game and then he made about 45% of [them] last year, which is a ridiculous percentage.
There are parts of his game that can continue to get better. He can work on his right hand finishing around the hoop, he can work on his ball handling and improve his turnovers, which he did last season. Even though James was an MVP, there are still places where he can continue to improve and he has the mentality where he wants to do that, and that’s the whole key I think.
Next: New additions