The Houston Rockets are firmly in the mix as one of the top teams in the Western Conference, but that hasn’t made them immune to rumors and speculation as trade season approaches.
The latest rumor gaining momentum involves all-star guard Russell Westbrook, who the team acquired in the offseason for a mighty haul that included Chris Paul and a bevy of first round picks.
Ryen Russillo of The Ringer believes that the Rockets would be willing to move Westbrook for the right price and situation.
“I think Westbrook is available. We can talk about semantics Of course, Daryl Morey would trade anyone if he thought it made his team better. Of course, he would trade Westbrook if he could get off of that long-term money, if he thought the assets, the sum of the parts was better than having somebody that’s considered a top-10 player.
Is Daryl Morey actively calling people, saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got to dump Westbrook?’ Well, of course, he wouldn’t do it that way. But there are people who believe Westbrook is available and that Daryl knows, ‘I’ve got to figure something out here.’
I’m sure people will deny this after they hear it on the podcast. I don’t care.”
Russell Westbrook Partnership With James Harden Still a Work in Progress
The pairing of Westbrook alongside James Harden hasn’t exactly made Houston the offensive juggernaut that was expected — the Rockets’ latest loss to the Golden State Warriors being an example of that. Westbrook shot 11-of-32 and a miserable 0-of-8 from the 3-point line in the 116-104 loss to the worst team in the West.
“It’s nothing we ain’t used to,” Westbrook said, via Jonathan Feigen of Texas Sports Nation. “We missed our shots, so it worked. Move on to the next one. Good luck though trying to do that.”
Westbrook is averaging 24.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists. He’s shooting 42.6 percent from the field and just 23.8 percent from the 3-point line.
Obvious Hurdles in Trading Russell Westbrook
If the Rockets did want to deal Westbrook, it wouldn’t be easy. He carries one of the largest salaries in the NBA, having signed a five-year, $206.7 million deal with Oklahoma city in 2018 prior to his trade to the Rockets. He becomes a free agent in 2023. And he’s not getting any younger at 31 with a style of play that demands the ball.
There’s also the fact that Westbrook and Harden are friends, having played in OKC prior to their partnership in Houston and building a bond. The duo appear to be taking a patient approach as their games evolve next to each other.
“It’s not going to take 20-25 games,” Harden told reporters earlier this month. “It might take the course of the whole year. … It’s still early. As long as we can continue to rack up wins while we’re still trying to figure it out, that’s important.”
Westbrook echoed that sentiment to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
“We’re right where we need to be,” Westbrook said. “We’re not even fully healthy, and that’s the scary part about it. We can really play a better 48 minutes and put ourselves in a better position to win each and every one of those games.”