In the 2019 NBA offseason, the Houston Rockets engaged in a blockbuster deal that sent Chris Paul and multiple draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook. The Rockets made the deal with the belief that pairing James Harden with a younger All-Star caliber point guard will enable them to maximize his championship window.
Westbrook is undeniably an incredible addition to the Rockets, giving them a former MVP and a triple-double machine. However, after spending most of his NBA career as the Thunder’s main man, there’s currently a huge question whether he can fit alongside Harden in the Rockets’ backcourt. During his introductory press conference with the Rockets, as quoted by ESPN, Westbrook expressed strong confidence that his tandem with Harden will work.
Russell Westbrook revealed that he and James Harden knew each other since he was just 10. Also, it’s worth noting that both superstars started their NBA career with the Thunder where they played together for three seasons. Though both of them are considered as two of the most dominant players in the NBA, Westbrook doesn’t see any problem sharing that backcourt with Harden, saying that he can excel in an off-ball capacity. If needed, Westbrook said that he’s willing to sacrifice “some parts” of his game in order to help the Rockets win the NBA championship title in the 2019-20 NBA season.
“We both understand that we have one common goal and that’s to win a championship,” Westbrook said. “We understand what we have to do. I’m not worried about it, and I know James isn’t worried about it. I can play off the ball; I don’t have to touch the ball to impact the game. That’s the best way for me to come in and impact this team. I can do other things on the floor to make sure we have a better chance to win.”
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) July 26, 2019
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey shared the same sentiment as Russell Westbrook, saying that it is necessary for players to make a sacrifice in order “to get something great.” Morey knew that they still have a lot of work to do this offseason regarding the team chemistry, but he strongly believes that Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni and his staff will find a way to maximize the talents on their roster.
Though he’s yet to play a single game as a Rocket, Westbrook thinks that he can easily fit in D’Antoni’s system. Being surrounded by legitimate three-point shooters will make it easier for Westbrook to penetrate the basket or kick the ball out when he’s trapped by the opposing team’s defense. Defensively, Westbrook believes that sharing the backcourt with James Harden will enable him to switch, guard, and rebound at a high level.