Both James Harden and Russell Westbrook are now speculated to be on the move, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
The duo teamed up after 7 years of being on different teams. Former Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey made the trade for Russ in the summer of 2019. In the process, he offloaded some valuable draft picks and the Chris Paul contract to the Thunder.
That move was compounded by Morey when he traded the Rockets’ only playable center in Clint Capela. This led to Robert Covington becoming the tallest member of the Rockets’ starting 5 at 6’7″. The Rockets’ all-in approach to small ball backfired spectacularly in the playoffs.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook reportedly on the move
According to Woj and MacMahon, Harden and Westbrook have expressed concern about the direction of the franchise in discussions with their representatives and the Rockets’ front office. The duo expressed concerns that Houston’s window as a contender could be closing. This has left them fearful about their commitment to the team.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook have expressed concerns about uncertainty of Rockets’ immediate future, sources told @wojespn and me. No trade requests have been made and Harden in particular remains engaged with front office in personnel discussions. https://t.co/kstEVb4EUI
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) November 11, 2020
Both Westbrook and Harden signed contracts worth over $41 million for this upcoming season. While the market for Harden should be relatively big, finding a contending team for Westbrook could prove dodgy.
The Rockets have few ways of improving their roster. They haven’t had a first round pick in the draft since 2015, which they used on Sam Dekker.
Barring a highly unlikely move for Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid or Karl-Anthony Towns, the Rockets will be consigned to the lower half of the Western Conference. Their ability to contend has truly been compromised by some hasty decisions taken by Morey.