Rockets Notes: Next Steps, Westbrook, Green, Nwaba

It has been an eventful day in Houston, as word broke this morning that one of the NBA’s longest-tenured general managers, Daryl Morey, has decided to step down from his position in the Rockets‘ front office.

Few – if any – lead executives were more closely associated with a team’s identity and philosophy than Morey was, according to Kevin Pelton of ESPN, who notes that Morey’s analytical approach to the game resulted in the Rockets pushing the limits on pace and three-point attempts. We don’t have a clear sense yet of what sort of influence GM Rafael Stone will have on Houston’s playing style, so the team’s new head coach may determine its direction in the short term, writes Pelton.

According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Stone is a believer in small-ball, but it’s not clear if he’s as enthusiastic about playing a full 82-game season without any traditional centers. As such, it will be interesting to see how aggressively the Rockets attempt to fortify their frontcourt this offseason.

Of course, bigger roster decisions will be on the horizon for Stone and the Rockets, especially if the team fails to make a deep playoff run again in 2021. I’d be surprised if Stone does anything drastic right away, but sources who have spoken to Marc Berman of The New York Post believe the Rockets are likelier to consider the possibility of a Russell Westbrook trade following Morey’s departure.

“I can’t imagine they are keeping (James) Harden and Russ together,” one NBA executive told Berman. “Russ excels best as the best player on a team and Harden needs outside shooters around him – not a ball-dominant guard. I think Russ will be the one traded.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • After thriving in Houston down the stretch and during the postseason, Rockets forward Jeff Green is expected to receive interest from “a slew of contending teams” this offseason, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic. As I noted last week, Houston only holds Green’s Non-Bird rights, so it may be tricky to re-sign him without using the mid-level or bi-annual exception.
  • Following Doc Rivers‘ exit from Los Angeles, the Rockets initially wanted to hire him to fill their head coaching vacancy, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon of ESPN. However, Rivers quickly reached an agreement with Philadelphia, taking him off the board for Houston. With Rivers and Tyronn Lue unavailable, the franchise is reportedly focusing on three potential finalists.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic conducted an extensive Q&A with Rockets wing David Nwaba, who spoke about his Achilles recovery, his fit in Houston, and more. Nwaba said he anticipates being good to go for the start of the 2020/21 season. “I’m working on getting in shape. It’s taken longer than what I thought to get back into shape, but that’s going to happen through time,” he said. “… The season’s probably going to start in two, three months — I should be more than ready.”
  • In another piece for The Athletic, Iko and Danny Leroux took an in-depth look at the Rockets’ short- and long-term salary cap situation.
  • If Morey seeks another NBA job, there will be no shortage of opportunities for him, writes Chris Mannix of
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21 thoughts on “Rockets Notes: Next Steps, Westbrook, Green, Nwaba

  1. Sign all the Cubans
    Sign all the Cubans

    “Stone is a believer in small-ball” That’s all I needed to see to know that playoff failure will continue to be part of the Rockets’ DNA.

  2. redkloud94

    Nobody’s coming to play in Houston with Harden, they need to trade both him and Russell before the talent doesn’t meet the contract anymore

  3. Sillivan

    Morey is severely overrated.

    1. As I said 3 months ago, Morey was not a basketball player. He is not comparable to Spurs and Thunder GM.

    2. Micro-ball is a failure with Jacking up 3s and without a pure shooter.

    3. Micro-ball for 48 minutes is just a crazy with no rebounds and interior defense.

  4. GoLandCrabs

    Westbrick was brought in to be a buddy for Harden. I would step down too if that was forced by ego manaiac Harden. At least Lebrons buddies are actual top 5 players in the game.

  5. Sillivan

    The most important thing for Rockets is to bring up future first round picks from the terrible team like Knicks.

    Typical example would be Westbrook for “tons of busts” and 2 Knicks own future first round picks.

    Does the Knicks fall in love with Westbrook?

  6. DeathbyDeathwest

    Woj says Morey was thinking about this since BEFORE the bubble. I think that’s a little lame on his part.

    Dude struck “gold” with getting Harden, and couldn’t figure out who to pair him with. The Westbrook trade cost him his job and credibility. Really speaks to how untradeable Westbrook is entering this offseason.

    Idk. The only thing that’s going to fix Houston is time. Trade Harden and House for prospects and future picks while you ride out the Westbrook and Gordon contracts?

    Who wants to give up what for Harden..?

    • The Howler

      Morey did a lot of $$$ damage with his comments about human rights for Hong Kong. Because of Yao, Houston had a bigger following in China and that might have been lost. Maybe he was “encouraged” to leave after the current season or maybe he felt a bad vibe. He probably left, though, because the team has no future due to his actions.

  7. implant

    Westbrook is such a better overall player than Harden and much more liked and respected around the league. They should build around Russ. As far as Morey goes, don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. The little coward tweeted about China while the Lakers were in the air and had no idea what type of firestorm they were entering into. Tweeted while sitting in the comfort that was Japan. And while Im not saying if his tweets were correct or not the fact is he tried to jack the Lakers up. So now that’s Coach D and Morey lying in the Lakers dust. Who knew the 17 time WC would play a huge part in the Rockets front office rebuild. F*@k Morey

    • LordBanana

      Building around Westbrook didn’t work when he in his physical peak, it’s not gonna work now when he’s older and on a team with a much cheaper owner.

      • Noel1982

        Also Russ isn’t close to being better then harden though I will say it sometimes look like he plays harder then harden

        • I agree, Harden’s more like that quiet genius who saves every ounce of energy he can for when he needs it later. Russ is all helter-skelter and then gassed at the fourth quarter and has no legs for the jumper. Not smart. The better player is James Harden by far. The man is a gifted scorer has great size and excellent vision.

    • x%sure

      Westbrook probably tips better but Harden has more basketball-specific talent. I’m sure he has more trade value, though maybe not if he has to change is attack method. Russ in theory is more flexible athletically but this year he did not adjust as well as wanted, so he may have to be ball-dominant to be comfortable, also. Same age, nearly the same contract left, to 2023. Gordon is 31 too!

      Planning to deal one or the other will probably fall by the wayside, as it depends on another team’s interest. At this point everyone has to be available… Morey bailed.

  8. Yep it is

    They at least Dodged a bullet by not getting the most 2 overrated coaches in Rivers Ran Dry and Thanks Bron BRON I had no clue Lue.

  9. Yep it is

    The Rockets at least got lucky by not getting the Rivers Ran Dry and Thanks BRON BRON because I had No Clue Lue

  10. stevep-4

    Nix would happily take either of those guards in return for salary matching fodder from their current roster, and they have some picks to send along. Then they get their ‘star’ to try to pry attention away from Brooklyn’s duo, and meanwhile Thibs can try to build a team around a hard-to-stop scoring guard and tough defense. That is his kind of team, almost had a shot with that before DRose blew his knee out.

  11. El Don

    The only reason Morey is out of the job is for his infamous tweet, the league & his team let it play for a year to show they don’t fire him, but kindly asked him to go quietly by his own accord, so the league can rightfully get back the money he cost them.
    I think basketball wise he is good & deserves his job, now that tweet was the most stupid thing he ever did in his life & has to be accountable for that.
    BTW don’t care about China, what is more I really don’t like them at all, but the NBA is a business first enterprise & he costed way too much money for no reason at all, based on that he had to go!

  12. KnickerbockerAl

    Harden can’t be traded. No team wants a one player team. Westbrook has to be the one to get traded. He still has value. Doesn’t take a genius to know that. Rockets only chance to stay relevant. In the Harden era. Is to move Westbrook. Redo team around Harden. It’s their best shot. Really don’t know who would be best coach for this. I have to think it’s a vet coach not a new one.

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