Rockets Notes: Harden, Westbrook, Wings, Chandler

The Rockets have faced some questions this offseason about how two high-usage players like James Harden and Russell Westbrook will complement one another. Executives, scouts, and coaches around the league are curious to see how the Rockets’ half-court offense functions when the two guards are playing together and Harden has the ball, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“That’s the billion-dollar question,” one Western executive said.

Despite some skepticism from outside observers, it doesn’t sound like head coach Mike D’Antoni has spent many sleepless nights poring over X’s and O’s to make sure the Harden/Westbrook combo will succeed, as MacMahon writes.

“We’re not going to make it too complicated,” D’Antoni said of his backcourt. “They’re MVPs. They’ll put up MVP numbers. I don’t have to interject how smart I am. That’ll just screw it up. They’re really f—ing good.”

D’Antoni does have a tentative plan for how to stagger his two star guards though, as MacMahon details. According to the Rockets’ head coach, Harden and Westbrook will likely only share the court for about 19 minutes per game if he sticks to his plan. That approach will give the club the best chance to avoid scenarios in which neither player is on the court.

As we look forward to the Rockets’ opener tonight, let’s round up a few more notes out of Houston…

  • Despite concern that Gerald Green will be out for the season, the Rockets aren’t currently pursuing another wing player, per Kelly Iko and Shams Charania of The Athletic. “We don’t feel as though we’re short of wing shooters,” a team executive said. “We have multiple guys who are interesting.” According to Iko, that exec pointed to Ben McLemore and Thabo Sefolosha as two veteran offseason additions who could contribute.
  • McLemore will have his partial guarantee increase from $50K to $500K later today, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.
  • Iko reports in the same story that the Rockets discussed a trade this month that ultimately fell through. According to Iko, another team was interested in giving Houston an asset to take on a player’s contract (likely a small contract, given the Rockets’ cap and tax situation), but eventually pulled back.
  • Although the Rockets made some changes to their roster this summer, they brought back all of their core veteran players. That has helped Tyson Chandler make a smooth adjustment to his new team, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes. “It helps big-time because you understand your role,” Chandler said. “As a young player, you’re trying to figure yourself out. You don’t know what your role is. You’re trying to create your niche. As an older player, you already know.”
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6 thoughts on “Rockets Notes: Harden, Westbrook, Wings, Chandler

  1. Gary

    Luke I was always able to count on this site to clean up athlete’s quotes (by leaving out poorly chosen words.) Other news sites like Yahoo quote the full word starting with ‘sh’ but this site never did. Now we’ve taken the next step and we write ‘f ing.’ (I know I just did it too but there’s no other way to state what I’m talking about.) Count on this, five more years F and Sh won’t be swear words. Yes kids and many young adults save them all the time today, but doesn’t make it right.

    Signed, old guy.

  2. DynamiteAdams

    I think the best thing for the Rockets is to stagger it so either Russ or Harden are always on the floor. I’m anxious to see how D’Antoni plays them tonight.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      They will basically do the same thing they have been for the last two seasons when they had CP3. But it should be far easier now since Westbrook doesn’t have the durability limitations that Chris Paul does, especially now in the twilight of his career.

      That’s the biggest difference in the trade that people haven’t really taken into account: availability. Even though Paul may be a far more efficient player, in particular a better shooter, but at the age of 34 he can no longer be relied on to play more than 50-60 games per season (or to last more than one or two series in the postseason).

      If CP3 hadn’t been hurt during the 2018 playoffs there’s a very good chance the Rockets would have won the championship two seasons ago. Luckily for the Rockets that will no longer be an issue after making another historic trade with the OKC Thunder having given away two of the top four players in the 50-year history of their franchise (including Gary Payton when they were in Seattle).

      • dynasty in boston

        Houston hasn’t won anything since Hackem Alojuan. IF they make playoffs, one and done

  3. Major Factuh

    There was an article/poll on here not too long ago about the best dynamic duos this year, and as a Mavs fan I was most looking forward to Luka/KP. However, as just a fan of the game, this experiment of Russ and Harden is going to be fascinating. What if this works out?

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      I remember at this time two years ago when people were just as skeptical about Harden and Paul. They went on to win a franchise-record 65 games that season, despite CP3 missing 24 games. In fact the team went 42-3 that year when those two and Capela were all in the starting lineup together.

      If Westbrook is indeed an upgrade over Paul, which he will be at least in terms of being able to play more than 58 games per season, it will certainly be fascinating for the fans to see these MVP’s playing together with a lot of supporting talent.

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