Rival exec thinks Rockets are the ‘best team in the Western Conference right now’
The Houston Rockets have had a wild summer. After the team was defeated by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals, general manager Daryl Morey seemed to indicate that James Harden was the only untouchable player on the roster.
Morey flirted with trading Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker in a possible sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler while also handling a media frenzy surrounding reports that there was an internal rift between Harden and Chris Paul.
Ultimately, the Rockets did make a big move. Morey sent Paul and future draft considerations to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook.
While some have questioned the decision to bring another ball-dominant player into the fray alongside Harden, one rival executive thinks the trade makes the Rockets the team to beat in the West (per Keith P. Smith of RealGM Analysis):
Opposing executive on where the Rockets stand: “Whoever that anonymous player was that said ‘don’t panic’ might have saved them. Swapping (Chris) Paul for (Russell) Westbrook is an upgrade I think. It’s up to Mike D’Antoni to stagger (James) Harden and Westbrook some. If they do that, holy cow are they hard to defend. And they kept all the other important guys. They need a couple more forwards, but they’ll figure that out. I think they’re the best team in the Western Conference right now.”
The onus will be on head coach Mike D’Antoni to figure out how to create enough floor spacing and opportunity for both Westbrook and Harden to operate.
During his introductory press conference, Westbrook insisted that he could play off the ball. However, he has repeatedly struggled to shoot the ball from the perimeter.
Still, the Rockets will certainly be a team to watch as they try to keep pace in a loaded Western Conference.
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