Rockets Notes: Harden, Westbrook, Draft

The Rockets aren’t opposed to entering the 2020/21 season with James Harden and Russell Westbrook on their roster, even if the two former MVPs aren’t happy about it, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who says the team is “willing to get uncomfortable.” The Rockets continue to insist that neither player will be dealt unless a team meets their asking price.

As MacMahon details – and as we’ve heard throughout the last week or two – the Rockets believe time is on their side since both Harden and Westbrook remain under contract for at least two more seasons.

Houston is seeking an especially substantial return for Harden, according to MacMahon, who hears from sources that the club would want a “proven young star” as a headliner, along with a “massive” package of draft picks. While Harden is reportedly pushing to be dealt to the Nets, the Rockets don’t feel obligated to send him to his preferred destination, MacMahon adds.

While the Rockets recognize that Westbrook won’t return as significant a package as Harden, they’re not prepared to move him without receiving young talent and/or first-round picks, says MacMahon. Houston feels it would be selling low on Westbrook after he struggled during the restart due to his coronavirus recovery and a quadriceps injury.

MacMahon, who confirms the Rockets have spoken to the Wizards about a deal involving Westbrook and John Wall, also confirms that Houston would want additional assets in a swap with Washington. The Rockets believe Westbrook can increase his value with a strong start to the 2020/21 season and aren’t concerned that his dissatisfaction will affect his effort on the court.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • The Rockets are hoping to buy a draft pick on Wednesday night, ideally late in the first round or early in the second, sources tell MacMahon. I’m skeptical that any first-rounders will be for sale, but Houston should have options in the second round.
  • Although things aren’t great in Houston right now, they’d only get worse if the Rockets accept a bad deal for Harden, according to Jerome Solomon of The Houston Chronicle, who urges the team to be patient and not give in to the superstar’s demands.
  • Now that the Rockets have picked up the No. 16 pick (in a trade involving Robert Covington), Kelly Iko and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic examine what the team could do with that selection.
  • We passed along several more Rockets-related rumors earlier today.
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