O’Connor’s Latest: Westbrook, Harden, Wall, Beal

Russell Westbrook made his trade request to the Rockets in large part because he and James Harden weren’t that great an on-court fit, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. As such, Houston viewed Westbrook’s desire to leave as a “blessing in disguise,” since it gave the team an opportunity to try to make Harden happy, per O’Connor.

As O’Connor explains, many members of the Rockets organization believe that Harden isn’t necessarily dead-set on leaving Houston, despite his reported preference for a trade — he simply wants to win a championship and is no longer sure whether his current team gives him a realistic chance to do so. If they want to keep him, the Rockets have to prove to Harden that they’re the team best suited to helping him realize that championship goal, O’Connor says.

Here’s more from The Ringer’s lead NBA reporter:

  • The Rockets “searched far and wide” to find a Westbrook trade, says O’Connor. League sources tell The Ringer that the Hornets‘ interest in Westbrook dissipated after they drafted LaMelo Ball and that interest from the Knicks “eventually fizzled” as well, leaving the Wizards as the only viable suitor.
  • The market for John Wall was even more limited than the one for Westbrook, according to O’Connor, who says that any team with even mild interest in acquiring the former No. 1 overall pick wanted multiple draft picks as a sweetener for taking on his oversized contract.
  • Wall’s desire to be traded became public shortly after word of the Wizards‘ discussions with the Rockets initially broke. O’Connor suggests that wasn’t a coincidence, writing that Wall became “disgruntled” with his future in D.C. once those trade talks were reported.
  • A video that surfaced in September showing Wall flashing gang signs at a party helped pave the way for his departure, since the club wasn’t pleased about that video, O’Connor confirms. Still, the Wizards‘ primary motivation for making the deal was their desire to focus on building around Bradley Beal and keeping him long-term, says O’Connor.
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42 thoughts on “O’Connor’s Latest: Westbrook, Harden, Wall, Beal

  1. seattlesuperfan

    Westbrook and Beal won’t mesh. Westbrook needs to be in a team where he’s always ball dominant doesn’t have to shoot threes and can drive in and pass out to anyone for 3. Fill a team of shooters with him and he’ll be good out another ball dominant guard into the mix it won’t work.

  2. Jason Lancaster

    This trade will make both teams better:

    Houston is better because they got a potentially lottery level draft pick (2023 is the year when highschoolers will be draft eligible), and because Wall’s shooting will give Harden more room to operate (until he’s traded, of course).

    Washington is better because they got a durable, high energy player who doesn’t show up to camp out of shape, and who should give the team some swagger. They’re a playoff team now, assuming everyone is healthy.

    Best of all, both teams have acquired players with potential upside: If Westbrook fits well in Washington, they’re going to win games. If Wall plays well, they just might be able to trade him for another pick (a la Chris Paul).

    • Marty McRae

      *crosses fingers* pleeeeease make this be the year Harden and Curry run the entire offense and take as many shots as possible

      I want to see a few 50 ppg seasons in my life!

    • takeitback

      Could also argue that both teams got worse, which makes this a fascinating trade.

      Houston just acquired a player that is never healthy

      Washington just acquired a player that could cause them to lose Beal.

    • You think the Wizards will be out of the lottery in three years? They will be in the early stages of a rebuild by then. That pick might transfer by 2025, but not if the Wizards can help it push to two second rounders.

      • Jason Lancaster

        The Wiz may be a lottery team in 2023. But if they aren’t, Houston got a decent pick.

  3. GoLandCrabs

    Everyone knew in July of 2019 Westbrook and Harden would not fit well on the court. Except Daryl Morey and delusional Rocket fans. Good for them it only took them 17 months to catch on.

    • Jason Lancaster

      Let’s not forget – Fertita said that the Chris Paul contract was the worst contract he’d ever seen. Do you *really* think Morey was the guy pushing to trade Paul away?

      I mean, Morey is an analytics guy, and CP3 is still a top tier PG according to most advanced stats.

      I think you’re kidding yourself if you believe Morey wanted to make that trade.

      • GoLandCrabs

        That was my first reaction yesterday. They keep trading for worse contracts after CP3, despite the owner claiming it was the worst he ever seen.

    • CamFrost

      I don’t think even Morey thought it would work. He did what made his superstar and the owner of the team happy. It was the least Morey-move ever.

    • 22Leo

      Yeah it’s not surprising that Harden and Westbrook did not fit well together. That seemed obvious from the beginning. The best chance the Rockets had was with Chris Paul, and once he got injured Harden couldn’t seal the deal versus the Warriors even with a significant lead. Harden simply blew it. Wall is, of course, closer to a Paul-type player, but he is injury-prone and Harden is still Harden. They will likely be better, provided Wall can stay healthy, but it won’t likely be enough to make a big difference. I think they will go out earlier than their fans expect in the playoffs once again, and we will continue to hear speculation about them trading Harden. I highly doubt Harden ever sees the Finals as the first option on a team.

      • 22Leo

        As for Westbrook going to Washington…I honestly could not care less about the Wizards. They are not a factor. If I were Beal, I would have tried to get out of there a while ago. I think the only reason they may be better. (though, like the Rockets, not significantly enough to make much difference), is because Westbrook can at least be expected to stay healthy.

    • CastielStrife

      You just never really know how things are going to shake out. I wouldn’t call fans “delusional” for believing in their team. It’s true that a lot of people had their doubts, I did myself. There were people that had their doubts about the “Big 3” in Miami too. Anytime you throw superstars together there is a risk. Who gets the ball when you’re down at the end of the game? Just one of the many questions that has to be asked when you throw players together.

      So there is always risk. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In this instance, it obviously didn’t work. It wasn’t so horrible that it kept the Rockets from the playoffs (in fact they actually played quite well in the bubble during the 8 play-in games), but it obviously didn’t work the way the team hoped it would. Now they’ve had to reset, and we will see what happens. It is what it is.

      • 22Leo

        I think he was referring to the Rockets fans who clearly do not posses the ability to be objective at all and post completely ridiculous comments which clearly ignore reality. That goes beyond just “believing in their team.” Every fan base has them, but the Rockets are one fan base that could compete for most delusional. It’s funny seeing them go against another contender in Warriors fans…both are in the running for most biased and delusional. It’s not the entire fan base of either team, but enough so that it seems to be a defining characteristic of both. Funny to see them bicker regularly.

      • x%sure

        “It is what it is”
        It’s not what it is until the games are played. Not knowing how it will turn out makes accurate anticipation or prediction, that much more important… and delusion a poison to avoid.

        This site is not the best medium for partisanship. Teams have a number of homer sites better for that and delusion.

        • CastielStrife

          I’m saying “it is what it is” in terms of the moves the Rockets have made. As a fan, I’ll support the team and root for the team regardless of who is on their roster. As far as the moves the Rockets have made, it most certainly “is what it is”. There’s nothing you, or I, or any Rocket fan or player can do about it. I’m excited for the season regardless. Do some fans take it too far? Sure, but they are a loud minority. If hwmvp, or whatever his name is now, says Lebron sucks then THAT is most certainly delusion. But rooting for his team, or even thinking they are going to do good, is just being a fan. None of us know what’s going to happen, no one. No one knows any better than hwmvp. Players and teams over perform, they underperform, they have injuries, suspensions, etc. And with COVID? Fuh get about it. We have no idea what will happen in a given season. I’d say basketball is easier to predict than other sports, but even then “that’s why they play the games”.

          • x%sure

            That’s playing both sides of the coin: It is what it is and You never know. These are shoulder-shrugging sentiments
            The Rockets moves leave many questions about fit and fitness. It is not set yet, not an “is” except legally.

            And as for never knowing… Many people know better than robotic fools like hwmvps, or homers in general. Why should predicting be absent from all the categories of what people are good or bad at? Predicting is a talent like anything else is, and homerism is a major cause of downfall. Any gambler should be careful about ruining well-thought-out cold analysis with knee-jerk favoritism. HoustonMinion also shows flaws regarding his hates— LAL, OKC, BRK.

            Being a fan also means being mad at your team for doing wrong things, at least by your measure. If there’s no anger or frustration then you never cared or got into it that much. Perpetual sunniness requires keeping a distance… or delusion… or being a cheerleader.

            • CastielStrife

              I can’t believe we are seriously arguing about this. It’s all semantics. It is what it is in terms of what the Rockets have done. I can’t change what they’ve done. Am I happy with every move they have made? Heck no. Am I happy with the moves they’ve made this far this off-season given what they had to work with? For the most part, yes. Silas wasn’t my first choice, and trading for John Wall certainly wasn’t either. Otherwise, though, I’m quite happy with the moves they’ve made. I don’t foresee a championship, obviously, but I think they will be a better team this season if Harden stays.

              As for the “you never know” bit, that’s about something entirely different. You guys want to call our fans delusional, and some probably are. How is it any more delusional than saying the Rockets suck and won’t even make the playoffs this season? With Harden gone, that may be the case. With him – it’s extremely unlikely. I’ve seen those sorts of comments too and no one bats an eyelash because they’ve grown to hate a team over a few commenters. I’d surmise that the Astros cheating scandal certainly didn’t help, though that’s a different sport.

              Anyways, the point being that none of us know how our teams will perform. Judging by his comments, if hwmvp and I both predicted 1-8 in the West this year I’d probably perform a lot better, but it’s still all predictions and speculation. I get mad at my teams all the time, but I also realize it’s not life or death, so yeah there are times when you do have to just shrug your shoulders. This season could end up going really bad for the Rockets or really good, any sane person should realize that. The moves they made have been made, and now they have to play the games.

              • x%sure

                Okay forget debating “it is what it is”. I was not talking about the Rockets and you were apparently.

                You’re claiming two opinions of outcomes are equal when one of them intends to support one side. No. Some forecasts are better than others, if only due to bias.

                There’s a lot of team fans around the site. But hwmvps is not just a Rocket rooter; he spends more time on his hatreds, anything Califorinia, esp the Lakers, OKC, and for some reason Brooklyn, and certain players. Of course the refs and everyone else is unfair to his cause. He’s a rube who talks like a robot with no self-consciousness.

                I agree that he has caused some extra dislike of Houston teams amongst posters. IMO, the Rockets are interesting. But I smell con man training.

  4. DeathbyDeathwest

    I was looking forward to seeing GSW and the Wiz run it back this year. And Giannis sign his extension. At least I don’t have to hear about AD’s contract for another 4 years.

    I guess Washington is now “better” – but by how much and for how long? I think the team had a higher ceiling with Wall (4th seed?) and maybe as low as 10 depending on his health, ect, but with Westbrook I don’t think their younger guys (strong bench) will grow their game as much watching Westbrook play 1 v 5 basketball.

    Also imo this probably puts Beal at greater risk of walking out sooner.

    • 22Leo

      Beal should have tried to bail a while ago. I agree, this trade may finally motivate him to really try to make that happen.

      • Curtisrowe

        Beal only has 2 more years left on his contract after this season, one of which is a player option, which I would imagine he wont pick up. He is only 27. I think he will just play two years, then sign someplace else of his choosing.

        • DeathbyDeathwest

          I think once this becomes clear to the Wizards, they’ll start looking to deal him.

          The only reason why I can imagine the Wizards ever entertained trading Wall this off-season is health /age related.

      • Maybe Beal will want to team up with a Ball or two, and Bol Bol. Maybe they join Wall in Houston.

        ngl, I want to hear the play calls.

        But seriously, Beal will bail. And Westbrook, if he isn’t horribly injured and a shell of his former self, will be pining for another exit.

  5. 22Leo

    To their credit, the Rockets did “search far and wide.” I’m pretty sure that constituted a quest. Likely it was an arduous journey and a fellowship was involved. They may not have reached their desired goal, however, because they lacked a ring.

    • x%sure

      Now streaming on dark and murky screens everywhere!
      (using dark sets cuts production costs)

    • harden (mvp),wall, and wood

      The ring is the goal, which will be achieved soon enough.

  6. WSnotAstros2017

    I hope we can get something from Wall.
    I wonder who will be the starting 5 for team.
    Harden, Gordon, PJ, Wood, Wall

    Bench?.
    Cousins, Green, Clemons??

    I do not know where our others we signed would be. Back up bench if blow out game like have used to get starters and main bench out.

    I really do not know if anyone out there could keep Harden here. Do not know how coaching staff will work out.

    Right now have to see perhaps in a week or so when pre season games if anything sticks out. Then more when real season begins

    • 22Leo

      I assume it’s all about Wall’s health, which seems to be a big question mark. That said, he is a much better fit with Harden than Westbrook. I don’t think many rational people saw that Westbrook-Harden experiment working. Regardless, while a healthy Wall would likely make the Rockets better, I wouldn’t expect them to advance any further in the playoffs. As a result, I would not be surprised if Harden is legitimately on the block after another playoff defeat. Just speculation, of course, but it does seem like the rumors about the Rockets potentially moving on are gaining some traction, and I would not be surprised if the Rockets only give the Harden project one more season.

      • x%sure

        But but RW and JH are childhood friends! So they will work well together! /s

    • harden (mvp),wall, and wood

      Starting 5 will be: Wall, Harden, Danuel House, Tucker, & Wood

      Bench/2nd unit will be: Gordon, Boogie, Ben McLemore, David Nwaba, and Sterling Brown. Clemons isn’t making the team, and Gerald Green probably won’t either. They’re both on non-guaranteed contracts and the team will only be carrying 14 players (plus two others on two-way deals).

      The other 4 players Green will be competing with in training camp are Jerian Grant, KJ Martin, Jae’Sean Tate, and Bruno Caboclo. Martin’s contract is guaranteed this season so he’s not getting cut. Tate and Caboclo both have $50K guarantees while Green and Grant’s deals are non-guaranteed. I would rate the chances of making the team (best to worst): Caboclo, Tate, Grant, Green.

  7. It’s all Jerry’s fault

    Wizards will be a play in tournament team in the East, Russ and Beal should work well together. Both can create and one can shoot, plus they have other shooters. They have a roster that fits Scott Brooks, they could be the 6 or 7 seed in the East. Only a couple teams can match their top two.

  8. KnickerbockerAl

    Westbrook and KD played fine together. They went to Finals as 23 yr olds. And had the best Warriors team on ropes 3-1. Those Thunder teams lacked shooting. LD was always their leading scorer. So I can see Westbrook playing with Beal. Washington biggest need is center position imo. Rui is a nice talent getting better. Bertans will fit well with Westbrook, plenty of looks. Washington is a playoff team. And truth is if they could sign another talent. They could be back in East mix. Avdija was a solid pick. They have pieces to support Beal long term. Westbrook is a better gamble than. Wall coming back from injury. This team can be built up next two yrs. It’s what you as a fan have to hope. Beal resigns and you can always move Westbrook on his last contract yr.

  9. andremets

    I think the Rockets would have been way better off accepting a bag of balls and cap space from the Knicks for Westbrook instead of getting just one protected draft pick from the Wizards and an equally bad contract for 3 years. They could have made a run Van Fleet or Or acquired Rubio for peanuts. Or they could have landed a top free agent next year or the year after. I predict Wall will only play 120 games tops in a Rockets uniform. Picture Steve Francis or Jalen Rose on the Knicks.

  10. I'm a starboy not a Dr...

    Beal will go from wanting to remain on DC to demanding a trade or demanding that iso centric, ball centric, solo act Westbrick be traded…

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