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Rockets Open Camp Ready To Take Next Step

After falling a game short against the Warriors, Rockets get ready to start a new season

September 25, 2018 - 1:07 am

By Adam Spolane (@AdamSpolane)

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- Chris Paul was in uniform during the Rockets losses in games six and seven of the Western Conference Finals, but he couldn't play. An injured hamstring in the final minute of game five made it so that he could do nothing but watch as the Rockets championship dreams slipped away, and as you'd expect, he didn't enjoy the experience.

"It was tough," he said Monday during Rockets media day. "Obviously I wanted to play, but it was what it was, but I took a couple of weeks to rehab when the season got over and then it was back to work. We're not going back in time, so all I could do is get back to work and get ready for the season.

On Tuesday, the Rockets will hold their first training camp practice at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Paul will be ready to go armed with two healthy hamstrings as well and a new four-year contract that will pay him $160 million. The Rockets led by double-digits at halftime in both games that Paul misssed against the Warriors, but after getting so close to toppling the best team in the world, the Rockets have to start over.

"You don't start where you left off," Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said. "You start from the starting line and everybody thinks they're going to win a title this year, there's 30 teams that are going to try to get it, but that's probably the hardest thing now. It's a little bit easier for us. We didn't win anything. We had a great year great but we still should be hungry. We're not there. We've got other problems but we're as hungry or as hungrier than last year to get this done, so complacency will not be a factor at all."

This is not the same team that won 65 games and pushed the Warriors to the brink. Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson are now in Phoenix, while Luc Mbah Moute is back with the Los Angeles Clippers. In their place, the Rockets added Carmelo Anthony, James Ennis, Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Knight, and Marquese Chriss among others. D'Antoni knows the Warriors are really, really good, but believes his team is right there with them.

"It's going to be really, really, really hard. Now we figured out three times we just got it figured out four times and hopefully we do that."

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said anything short of a return trip to the Western Conference Finals would be a disappointment, but his best player took it once step further.

"When you make it to the Western Conference Finals all you hear is 'you guys had a great season, you guys will be good next season', you hear that all summer," Rockets guard James Harden said. "I'm tired of hearing that sh.."

Harden, the NBA's reigning MVP is back for his seventh season with the team, and he says that for him and his teammates, the Rockets 2018-19 season is championship or bust.

"We all have one goal, and you're going to keep hearing the same story over and over until I'm not here anymore. We gotta win the 'ship, and so we all got the same goal, and we kinda know what it almost takes to get there, but we haven't got there, so that's more motivation, that's more drive for all of us."