With Russell Westbrook’s trade request now common knowledge, The Athletic’s Sham Chirania revealed many conflicts between him and James Harden.
Westbrook and Harden are two of the closest friends in the NBA circuit. They’re from the same neighbourhood in Los Angeles, and have played with and against each other through all age groups. They were teammates for 3 seasons and made the NBA Finals together, before Harden was traded to the Rockets.
When Westbrook was acquired by the Rockets in the summer of 2019, the expectation from him was to hold Harden responsible. He tried his best to do that. We saw several disagreements between the duo all through the season.
New reports suggest that there may be more than just on-field disagreements between the All Star duo.
Harden and Westbrook’s verbal spats made public
Given their history of over 15 years as players together, one would have expected Harden to take criticism from Russ in his stride. That was not, however, the case, as the friction between them continued to grow all through the season.
On court, the duo set a record for the highest points per game average by 2 teammates combined in the regular season. But it was clear by the end of the season that theirs wasn’t a combo that would lead the Rockets beyond the likes of the Lakers.
The Athletic’s report on the trade situation for Westbrook is quite revealing towards this:
“Westbrook, sources say, has made it known for quite some time now that he would like to see significant changes to the Rockets’ culture. Specifically, his desire for more team-wide accountability, discipline and structure have been the focus of talks with team officials.”
“Throughout the season, Westbrook was the consistent presence who kept Harden accountable and the two close friends had several verbal exchanges that sources described as “tense, but needed.”
Russell Westbrook and James Harden ‘had several verbal exchanges that sources described as tense, but needed.’
Westbrook said to be the consistent presence who kept Harden accountable throughout the Rockets’ season.
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) November 12, 2020
With the situation now at breaking point, it seems Westbrook’s trade demand will only weaken the Rockets further. They mortgaged their future to get him, and have a long path back to contention now.