NBA Executives Discuss Feasible Scenarios for the Houston Rockets Following Playoffs Exit

Published 09/17/2020, 8:47 AM EDT
Sep 8, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook (left) celebrates with guard James Harden (13) after dunking against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of game three in the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets‘ experiment with a small-ball lineup was exposed by the Lakers in the WCSF. LeBron James and the Lakers tormented the Rockets on both ends of the court, and Houston was out of the Playoffs in just five games.


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The Rockets organization is currently in a dire state and many jobs are on the line. Meanwhile, coach Mike D’Antoni has already confirmed he has no plans to re-sign with the Rockets. But the biggest concern for GM Daryl Morey is making a potential future altering decision for the Rockets.

Whether he should trade his superstars in James Harden and Russell Westbrook or give the duo another run. Several NBA analysts and executives gave their opinions on this dilemma.


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“Daryl Morey’s job is safe, and I’m sure he’s going to pick the right head coach,” says ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “Fertitta isn’t going to pay [both Morey for the next four years] and a replacement. But this will be Morey’s last coaching hire [in Houston]. I promise you that.” a former Western Conference executive said.

If Houston is parting ways with Mike D’Antoni, then they are probably interested in hiring a more defensive-minded coach.

I remember they mentioned wanting more of a defensive-type coach before hiring Mike,” a second Eastern Conference executive said.

One way or another, the Rockets will hire a new head coach before the 2020-21 season begins. However, the more daunting matter is deciding the future of their star players. Although James Harden has been with the Rockets for eight seasons, the Beard has failed to carry the team further than the WCF.

Should the Houston Rockets trade James Harden?

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts during the second half of game three in the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Over the years, Harden has teamed up with several big names in the NBA. Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and now Russell Westbrook, but the lingering issue remains Harden’s inability to perform in the Playoffs.

James Harden gets his scoring numbers regardless, but we have all witnessed that it’s not enough in the Playoffs.

“Everything should be on the table, including moving Harden,” said the second Eastern Conference executive.

I think we all realize that Harden and Westbrook aren’t the perfect fit for one another. But I think they might just have to move forward with those two and continue to try to build the roster around them,” the first Eastern Conference executive said.

Westbrook and Harden achieved great heights in the regular season. But come playoff time, Westbrook completely disappeared and had one of the worst playoff runs of his entire career!


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Moreover, splitting up Westbrook and Harden is a tough nut to crack. Both superstars have massive multiyear contracts right now.

“The Knicks might be one of the only teams that could be a fit for Westbrook,” the executive continued. “Not sure if there are any others.”

This could be the only plausible scenario for the Rockets as they can get rid of Westbrook’s contract. In addition, the Rockets will receive a much-needed deeper bench from the Knicks. Knicks have several movable pieces on their roster, and they need a legit superstar to lead the team. Westbrook performs at his best when being the primary ball-handler, and there are no second guesses about that.


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What do you think? Should the Knicks approach the Rockets for a trade package for Westbrook? Or is it too soon to blow up the dynamic duo?


Aikansh Chaudhary

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Aikansh Chaudhary is an NBA columnist for Essentially Sports. Previously, he helped rank various websites using the latest SEO techniques, and wrote over 2000 articles during his stint as a freelance writer. A die hard Lakers fan, Aikansh will forever uphold LeBron James as the GOAT.