Harden, Westbrook Have Expressed Concern About Rockets’ Direction

Following the departures of head coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey, Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook have expressed concern – in discussions with their agents and Houston’s front office – about the direction of the franchise, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon.

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said last month that there are “no plans” to blow up the roster and that the team remains fully committed to contending for a title. New GM Rafael Stone echoed that sentiment, recently indicating that Houston is “all in” on its quest for a championship.

Despite those assurances, Harden and Westbrook have conveyed some concerns about how long the Rockets’ championship window will be open, according to ESPN’s duo. While neither player has asked for a trade, the organization is worried that their commitment to staying in Houston long-term may be wavering and believes the idea of the two guards requesting trades has become a “plausible eventual possibility,” per Woj and MacMahon.

The two former MVPs are each under contract through at least 2021/22, with $47MM player options for the ’22/23 season.

As Wojnarowski and MacMahon detail, Harden has been in discussions with the Rockets’ front office about potential roster moves this offseason, which isn’t new — he has “expressed similar urgency” about making moves to improve the club’s title chances during previous offseasons. He and Westbrook were also both consulted during Houston’s coaching search and were on board with the hiring of new head coach Stephen Silas, sources tell ESPN.

Still, while Morey was aggressive about upgrading the roster in past years, his moves have left the Rockets will little ammunition available for future deals. Houston is the only NBA team without a pick in the 2020 draft. The team has also traded away multiple first-round selections (2024 and 2026) and agreed to swap first-rounders in other years (2021 and 2025).

ESPN’s story on the Rockets’ stars comes on the heels of a report from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (video link), who suggested on The Mismatch podcast this week that teams around the NBA believe Westbrook “could be had” in a trade.

O’Connor says he has heard the Clippers and Knicks are among the teams with interest in Westbrook, though he cautions there’s no guarantee anything will materialize on that front.

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70 thoughts on “Harden, Westbrook Have Expressed Concern About Rockets’ Direction

  1. Reflect

    Rockets would be better off trading both. Their roster is way too far gone and can’t be saved at this point. They are basically in Griffins-Pistons limbo. Or Knicks-Melo limbo. Etc…

  2. Chief Two Hands

    The only way either Harden or Westbrook will win a ring is if they take a backseat to to a better superstar and basically piggyback their way to a championship. I could see Westbrook possibly doing that, but it’s tough to imagine Harden, who seemingly only knows how to play one way, giving up the ball on a regular basis.

    • jump shot

      There’s only one team in the league Harden could go to where he wouldn’t be the best player – maybe two (Luka). Maybe three (Kawhi). You all will let me know if there are others. Regardless, he will have to make adjustments (or concessions) in his game, no matter where he plays, if he wants to win a championship before he’s done.

      • hiflew

        I assume LeBron is your one not mentioned. If so, I think Giannis can be added to the list.

        • jump shot

          Ahhh… I forgot about Giannis. And, yes to LeBron.
          NBA will be fun to watch this season. Hopefully covid won’t throw too many curveballs.

      • hiflew

        Plus, it is not really a question of better players. Dwyane Wade was not a better player than LeBron James, but those Heat title teams still seemed like LeBron was on Wade’s team instead of the other way around. So if Harden went Portland for example, it wouldn’t be Harden’s team, he would be on Lillard’s team. But if he went to a team without a star like Chicago, it could still be considered Harden’s team. Just my belief anyway.

        • Reflect

          This is true, I agree. Same thing with the Warriors. It was always Curry’s team, even when Durant was there.

      • Chief Two Hands

        When I say “a better superstar” I am not just referring to pure talent, but a player who is willing to sacrifice in order to make his team better. I don’t think Harden is capable of that, and he tends to disappear when his team needs him most. Harden would likely have a ring if he could have just hit some shots after Paul got injured versus the Warriors. He couldn’t even pass the ball. He just kept jacking up bricks because he only has one mode.

  3. goastros123

    Trade Harden for Simmons and trade Wrestbrook for a Devin Booker. Booker can score while Simmons can kind of be his Michael Cooper. Both guys are younger than Harden and Wrestbrook and are set to make less money in the next few years (I’m assuminh Booker is).

    • antsmith7

      Why would the Suns trade their young star for a past his prime, more expensive Wesbtrook? That’s not happening.

          • goastros123

            Any young player with potential and upside? Andrew Wiggins, Zack Lavine, Jonathan Isaac, De’Aaron Fox, Trae Young, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, etc are all young dudes with a lot of potential aka a Devin Booker. Will all of those be available? No, but the Rockets can try to get some one like that. All of those players are not shooting guards but you can slide Simmons over the 4 and still have him guard a Steph Curry if Houston got Simmons and a young guard with potential. You could possibly put D’angelo Russell at the 2 while keeping Simmons at the 1 for a unselfish backcourt to build around. A lot of teams would love to have a Wrestbrook.

            • DeathbyDeathwest

              The idea of the Rockets trading for Booker, Simmons, Young, Zion, Tatum, Morant, or even Fox is laughable.

              Sure, it’d be cool if my Bucks could flip Bledsoe for Dončić, but you’d never catch me floating that idea out there with any seriousness.

              Westbrook has huge negative value, and folks either like Harden or they don’t want him near their team. Good luck.

              • goastros123

                Because Bledsoe was never on Wrestbrook’s level as as a player. That’s why you wouldn’t suggest trading Bledsoe for Luka. Dallas has a bright future as a contender while the Kings do not. Kings have talented players but still not good enough. Philly’s process has yet to provide results satisfying results. Not nearly as far-fetched as you think it is. Plus, I was asked to name how many Devin Bookers are in the league and not how many are in the league and could be traded.

                • goastros123

                  All of that is moot any ways because the Rockets seem to have no interest in trading either player.

    • Strike Four

      Why would Phoenix trade 24 year old Booker for 32 year old about to be severely-overpaid Westbrook?

      • goastros123

        Why would you predict the A’s go far in the post season? Sit down, mr. “PEDS aren’t cheating”.

  4. DeathbyDeathwest

    The Rockets are a broken “contender” held together by duct tape. The organization has no forward momentum.

    Seems like Houston is setting up for its own, less majestic, The Last Dance to close a decade of disappointment.

  5. Strike Four

    Ahahahahahaahahaahahahahahahahaa

    AHHHHHHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAAAAHAAA

    Steph Curry’s bodycount just keeps getting longer and longer…the man has wrecked FRANCHISES. Bron would never…because he probably wants to play for them all!

    • goastros123

      Steph’s rings: 2015 = Kyrie and Love hurt. 2017 = Kawhi taken out by Zaza, Steph’s teammate. 2018 = CP3 gets hurt. Also, Astros are the A’s daddy.

      • DeathbyDeathwest

        Astros ring(s) – cheated the sport in historic fashion to “win” their only title.

        The Astros title should be rescinded and AJ Hinch banned from the sport.

        • Strike Four

          Imagine thinking the astros are anyones daddy – like DUH yall are cheating SMH

          Houston doesn’t deserve professional sports, period. Say it back!

        • Strike Four

          Also, imagine bringing up opponents injuries to try and besmirch GSW’s rings, THE GSW WERE ALL INJURED, ALL THE TIME AND IT COST THEM TWO RINGS lol

          • goastros123

            Wrong. The GSW’s dynasty was ended by injuries and it’s a fitting end because their dynasty was helped by injuries to other teams during the post season. GSW had a great run but they also got lucky. Lol.

        • goastros123

          You predicted the A’s go far and the Astros suck. Good job, Strike Four. Lol. Stay mad. Astros are your daddy.

    • GoLandCrabs

      The Rockets are the only franchise Curry wrecked. Who else exactly? LOL gotta love delusional Warrior homers

  6. xxtremecubsguy89

    Oh how the tides have… oh wait, no they haven’t. Everyone (except one poster on here) knew it was going to come to this. Harden hasn’t played D since OKC. Russ needs to be the third option. They have no cap. No picks. No hope. They are going to be so dysfunctional this season, they’ll be lucky to get into the playoffs. Steph is gonna be laughing all the way to home court advantage watching Houston struggle.

    • implant

      They should trade Harden and build around Westbrook. Media hates him but he could be the most underrated player in the league

  7. hoosierhysteria

    They get nothing in return. Who wants those huge salaries in this financial crisis…no fans? No one.

  8. afsooner02

    Just ask “Hardin-Westbrook-mvps”….they’re going to win it all in 2021. This is the best team ever assembled.

  9. mcmillankmm

    Their poor moves in win-now mode are catching up….can only imagine how the team will look after the next 2 seasons…can’t see either of those 2 opting out of a $47M annual salary but they better figure out their strategy or they’ll have no picks or young players

    • Yes it’s pretty crazy how the GM can make all those moves and strip the team of its future, and then skip town. Sounds like a movie.

      But seriously all is not lost for the Rockets. You could trade James Harden right now for a major haul. I would love him on the Warriors. Really I would. He is very talented and would adjust his game, just like he did for Mike D’Antoni. Coach said, you need to do everything, bring the ball up, play the point guard and shoot a lot. And that’s what Harden did. On the Warriors he would be a 4th quarter guy and another dominant scorer on the wing. And Harden’s defense? In the playoffs this year I saw Harden play some serious defense at times. He is capable of it. But don’t forget Dantoni said, conserve yourself, reserve your energy, we need you in the fourth. I’m not down on James Harden I think he’s a tremendous asset even at 50 million bucks. I would trade Wiggins Plus bench Riff Raff and a first-round pick to Houston for him AND his contract. And I would do it quick before Houston changed its mind.

      Side note I would not want anything to do with Russell Westbrook. He is untradeable in my opinion. I’m not sure why the Clippers and the other teams mentioned would have any interest. I think Westbrook is a cancer on the floor as a player. He might have a good attitude but his style of play is atrocious. Just my opinion. I guess I’m wrong because these other teams are calling about him.

      • hiflew

        I could see the Knicks needing him simply for the marquee value. The Knicks are not the type of franchise that should have Julius Randle as their franchise player. I love Randle, but he should not be the #1 option of a big market franchise. A trade like

        Knicks get
        Russell Westbrook

        Rockets get
        Julius Randle
        Kevin Knox
        Taj Gibson
        Frank Ntikilina

        would give the Knicks a big roster reset while not giving up Barrett or Robinson or any picks while getting themselves a big name player. For the Rockets, they would get a couple of young players that might have upside in Knox and Ntikilina and a competent starter in Randle without having to surrender any more picks.

        It makes a lot of sense, but I don’t see it happening just because Leon Rose likes Knox. It could be done with other pieces though.

          • hiflew

            The Rockets need a lot of draft picks, but that doesn’t mean they are going to get them.

            • goastros123

              Just get something. The experiment didn’t work and it’s time to move on.

              • hiflew

                That was my point. Getting Knox / Ntikilina / Randle is better than staying in cap purgatory for the next 3 years. Even if none of them work out, all of those contracts expire a year or more earlier than Westbrook. So at least you could start over sooner.

                  • hiflew

                    Oh yeah they definitely could do that. But I think they would be able to extract more value if they did separate deals. That Knicks deal I mentioned for Westbrook coupled with this Harden deal

                    Celtics get
                    James Harden
                    PJ Tucker

                    Rockets get
                    Gordon Hayward
                    Marcus Smart
                    Romeo Langford
                    Carsen Edwards
                    Picks 14, 26, 30 in this draft
                    2022 #1 lottery protected

                    It’s a lot for Boston to give up, but they would be the class of the East and more importantly a team like Philly would NOT get Harden. For the Rockets, they have very nice start for a rebuild + some much needed draft capital.

  10. InvalidUserID

    It’s hard to think a team with two MVPs and a group of other very talented players (Tucker is one of my favs) is in a tough spot but the moves by the FO has handicapped their flexibility and future a bit.

  11. GoLandCrabs

    In before Harden Westbrook MVP says everything is fine and the Rockets are about to win back to back titles.

    • Natergater77

      Notice how HWMVP is missing but Houston’s own baseball fan is here cheering how great the Rockets are?

      Can we say multiple accounts

  12. Natergater77

    My suggestion if it’s a blow up rebuild

    76ers get:
    Harden
    T. Gibson
    F. Ntilikina

    Knicks get:
    Westbrook

    Rockets get:
    Embid
    Horford
    Randle
    ATL 2nd Round Pick this year
    DAL 1st Round Pick 2023

    Philly gets to try to be Houston East with Harden and Simmons, as well as get out from Horford contract.

    Knicks get someone to sell tickets while they continue to build around Barret. And the DAL pick will probably be a late round pick by that time.

    Houston gets to recover some draft capital and start new with Embid.

  13. Sillivan

    After trading 2 to Hornets for 3 and Hornets top 14 protected or unprotected 2022 pick

    Rockets get Wiggins, 3 and 2022 Wolves unprotected and 2022 Hornets unprotected pick
    Warriors get Harden

  14. Hawk2916

    Westbrook to the Clippers??? Yeah im good with that. The Rockets could take back lemon pepper Lou, Beverly and Trez.

  15. Knicks and Westbrook are not a match. Certainly from the Knicks’ perspective, and likely from Westbrooks’ as well. Until Rose & Co. give me reason, I won’t insult them by believing they’re actually considering it.

    The Clippers aren’t either, but at least they’re a team trying to win within a window that includes the balance of the Westbrook’s career.

  16. harden-westbrook-mvps

    Wow, 61 comments, I’m sure each of them is better than the next. Sorry but I’m not going to waste time reading any of them, even the ones aimed at me. We’ll just see how wrong they are next season.

    • DeathbyDeathwest

      … so we’re all clear, you’re announcing to the board that you ignore facts which don’t suit your worldview.

      Guess I’m just surprised you’re finally saying what we’ve all been thinking…

    • hiflew

      And yet you are perfectly okay with wasting your time typing out that you don’t want to waste your time. Man, you are entertaining. I’ll give you that.

        • x%sure

          I think you’re rotund… goastros123 looks like gastros123 and I interpret like Homer Simpson, Donuts mmm.
          Or was that me gaining weight…

          • goastros123

            I’m trying to lose weight so you’d be correct. I got a stationary bike I’m gonna ride later as I watch Ice Cube’s Friday for the first time.

          • Natergater77

            goastros wants you to believe he isn’t HWMVP, but he is. That is until Harden joins Morely in Philly. The he will become Harden-Simmons and PhillyPhanatic123 lol

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