MANILA, Philippines – Houston guard James Harden is optimistic about their chances in the next NBA season after an early exit in the playoffs this year.
Behind another MVP-level campaign from Harden, the Rockets won 53 games and made the playoffs as the fourth seed. That put them in a collision course with Golden State in the Western Conference semifinals and the Warriors ousted them in six highly contested games.
Harden, who averaged a league-leading 36.1 points per game in the regular season, noted that health and injuries played a major factor in their slow start to the year.
"You can't control it," he said during a press conference at the SMX Convention Center on Wednesday night. "It's basketball, and injuries happen."
Several of the Rockets' core players – including Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, and Clint Capela – missed considerable time last season. That sparked Harden's incredible run, as the 2018 MVP carried the team on his back for most of the season.
"We gotta continue to get better," said Harden of his team. "Myself, Chris, everybody on that roster need to come back a bit better."
Harden added that the Rockets also need to "better our roster."
"Fill the pieces that we need to fill," he stressed.
"We gave ourselves a chance last year, but we fell short. So we gotta continue to get better. We lost games, we lost in the season, so next year we gotta come back and be better," he added.
The Rockets cannot afford to dwell on what happened to them in the 2018-19 season, especially with the Western Conference appearing to be a wide-open race this year.
"We can't be sad about it," said Harden. "You gotta continue to push, continue to work until you reach your goal."
The Rockets have yet to make a move so far in the offseason, although they have had to contend with rumors of a rift between Harden and Paul. It was also recently reported that they plan to pursue Philadelphia swingman Jimmy Butler in free agency.
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