James Harden to actively recruit free agents, including Kevin Durant

HOUSTON -- When NBA free agency starts on July 1, count James Harden as someone who will be actively recruiting. The Houston Rockets shooting guard says he's coming after one of the top players on the market, Kevin Durant.

"I'm going to try. He's one of my really good friends," Harden said during his annual youth basketball camp on Thursday. "I'm going to try and talk to him. He has a big decision [to make], whatever he feels best for his career.

"I obviously would love for him to play here in Houston, but ultimately he's got to make the best decision for his career whatever that is."

Harden said he has hung out with Durant since their seasons ended, fueling speculation the recruiting pitch is underway. Harden said he hasn't started the process yet but, "I got to think about something in the next couple of days."

Harden and Durant played in Oklahoma City for three seasons before Houston acquired Harden via trade in 2012.

Last season, the Rockets finished 41-41, prompting numerous changes, from a new coach, Mike D'Antoni, to the departure of center Dwight Howard, who declined to pick up his player option.

Harden said he's skipping the Rio Olympics to prepare for what's expected to be a busy summer.

"Last year was very frustrating, as an organization, in Houston," Harden said. "So for me, I think trying to get our winning ways back. Back to the championship ways. Just being a part of that free agency process trying to get guys to Houston and trying to win that right now is something I'm trying to focus on."