NBA execs believe Rockets didn’t improve despite Russell Westbrook acquisition
The Houston Rockets shocked the sports world with their summer acquisition of former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder. In exchange for 34-year-old point guard Chris Paul and draft picks, Daryl Morey and Houston were able to re-assemble a backcourt featuring Westbrook and his ex-Thunder teammate in James Harden.
Not everybody is digging the trade, however. According to Ethan Strauss of The Athletic, NBA executives think the Rockets didn’t improve despite forming a superstar duo in Westbrook and Harden.
Survey says … the Rockets won’t take off. No executive I asked believes that the Rockets are better for the Russell Westbrook/Chris Paul exchange. As one executive said, “I think they’re about the same, just another year older. It will be interesting to see how they share the court.”
The Rockets lost to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs for the second straight year, with the Dubs taking Houston down in six games in the second round of the 2019 NBA playoffs. To recall, Mike D’Antoni and Co. also lost to Golden State in the 2018 West Finals in seven games.
Appearing to be heading in the wrong direction, general manager Daryl Morey flipped Paul — who had only been acquired two years ago from the Los Angeles Clippers — for Westbrook to supercharge the Houston backcourt.
There are plenty across the league, though, who believe Westbrook has declined in recent years, especially since his MVP-winning season in 2016-17. Westbrook has been the subject of criticism due to perceived selfish playing behavior and ballhog tendencies, with triple-double stat lines polishing his resume over wins and postseason success.
Nevertheless, we will have a vision of how the reformed Harden-Westbrook backcourt looks with the 2019-20 season a month away.
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