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James Harden drew a ridiculous foul against the Bulls

James Harden drew a ridiculous foul against the Bulls

James Harden attempts 10.7 free throws per game which is a major factor in how he stays among the top scorers in the NBA every year. Game officials tend to fall for his tricks, and there was no greater example than what occured in Friday's 121-117 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls. 

Harden didn't get free throws as a direct result of this botched call -- he was 11 of 14 at the stripe and had 42 points -- but it led to Michael Carter-Williams being fouled out as he tried to front Harden

The call was awarded by Tony Brothers at 2:03 of the extra session as Harden, who is 6-5 and 220 pounds, literally hopped onto Carter-Williams' back for a piggyback ride and took him to the ground.

It's hardly the first time that this technique, if you call it that, was used by Harden. He did this to Jrue Holiday in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans last season.

That NBA game officials whistles this in favor of the offensive player is why John Wall had been annoyed earlier this season with the lack of respect from officials. It has led to nine technical fouls against the Wizards' point guard, but suffice to say if he took the tact the whistle is unlikely to be in his favor. 

When the Wizards lost a game in Houston a few seasons ago, it was Harden who grabbed then-Wizards forward Trevor Ariza (now his Houston teammate) to draw the foul and get the ball to win the game on a final possession.

Harden is a near impossible cover as it is because of his size and strength, but when he's gets the benefit of the doubt despite officials knowing his flair for salesmanship is hard to justify.

If the history of a player is taken into account when the league office deals out fines and suspensions for bad behavior, then why not raise the bar on what's a foul against players who do this consistently?

Will some calls that they deserve not be given because of reputation? Of couse. But until they clean up their act, erring on the side of caution and fairness is justifiable.

It'll never happen. But it should. This isn't a "superstar" calls. It's just a disgrace.

[RELATED: Paul Pierce: Isaiah Thomas is 'easily the best point guard' in the East]

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Carmelo Anthony to sign with Rockets on minimum contract, report says

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Carmelo Anthony to sign with Rockets on minimum contract, report says

After over a week of speculation, it appears that Carmelo Anthony will indeed sign with the Houston Rockets, as a new report from the New York Times has confirmed Anthony's plans.

Marc Stein notes that Anthony will join the Rockets once he clears waivers and will sign a veteran minimum contract. Anthony will make about $1.8 million from the Rockets on top of the $27.9 million he received in his buyout from the Atlanta Hawks. Anthony was first traded from Oklahoma City to Atlanta.

Anthony teaming up with James Harden and Chris Paul is big news, though his acquisition does carry some risks. The Rockets had a good thing going last year, as they finished one win short of a berth in the NBA Finals. They were up 3-2 on the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals and lost the last two games after Paul got injured.

Adding Anthony, it would seem, could help push them over the top. But Anthony isn't the player he once was and there are questions about whether his style is conducive to winning. Anthony has traditionally been at his best when he's a large focus of the offense and he won't be in Houston.

Plus, the Rockets let some important players walk at Anthony's position. Trevor Ariza signed with the Suns and Luc Mbah Moute went to the Clippers. There will likely be a noticeable drop-off on defense.

There is a chance, however, that Anthony thrives in Houston's system. Head coach Mike D'Antoni has set up a structure of isolation ball while spacing the floor with three-point shooters. Anthony could succeed if he can make his possessions count and score more efficiently with less shots. Last year he wasn't able to do that, as he shot just 40.4 percent from the field, but he also wasn't operating in as lethal an offense as the Rockets.

Anthony going to the Rockets represents an interesting point in the career of a guy who will someday be in the Hall of Fame. This should be the best team he's ever played on and if things go right, he could rewrite some narratives about his inability to win in the playoffs.

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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