Loyalty and friendship were a big part of the equation in the Rockets’ acquisition of Russell Westbrook, Kelly Iko of The Athletic reports. The Thunder wanted to grant Westbrook his preferred destination once OKC decided to go into full rebuild mode. His friendship with James Harden proved vital, according to Iko, and put Houston over the top compared to the Heat, the other main bidder for Westbrook. The Rockets’ front office believes the Westbrook and Harden pairing will work out, especially since they’ll be surrounded by shooters, a luxury that Westbrook didn’t have with the Thunder.
We have more from the Southwest Division:
- Rockets reserve big man Isaiah Hartenstein will pass on the FIBA World Cup this summer in order to focus on next season, Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas tweets. Hartenstein, a 21-year-old 7-footer, informed the German national team that he has prioritized his NBA career. “I will need to prove I can belong here,” he told Urbonas.
- Power forward Ivan Rabb and the Grizzlies have mutually agreed to push back his contract guarantee deadline to mid-October, Michael Wallace of the team’s website tweets. Rabb appeared in 49 games with Memphis last season, including 13 starts, averaging 5.8 PPG and 4.2 RPG. The 2017 second-round pick’s $1,618,520 salary for next season was due to be guaranteed today. He has a partial guarantee of $371,758.
- New Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball is expected to be cleared for full contact in two weeks, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Ball was shut down in March due to an ankle injury.
- The aftermath of the Grizzlies’ busy offseason shows the vision of the front office, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. Memphis has a younger core to build around and has acquired future assets to accelerate the process.