While the Houston Rockets have a starting backcourt that features two former league MVPs in James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the team is still far from being a lock to completely dominate the competitive Western Conference this season. That has led to the team being mentioned in a few trade rumors in recent weeks, including one that suggests the Rockets were very close to making a deal with an unnamed NBA rival, only for the offer to get canceled earlier this week.
Citing a report from Kelly Iko of The Athletic, ClutchPoints wrote that the Rockets aren’t aggressively seeking a trade right ahead of the 2019-20 regular season, which kicked off on Tuesday. However, Iko cited his own “conversations” with Houston’s front office, which suggest that the Rockets could have been involved in a trade that “ultimately fell through” this week, with the other team supposedly making the move to nix the deal before it pushed forward.
“[I]t was a team interested in dumping a player’s contract in Houston and attaching an asset to do so,” Iko was quoted as saying. “The Rockets might have done it, even though it wasn’t for a rotational piece, but the opposing team eventually pulled back on its approach.”
Based on the above information, there’s a strong possibility the player wasn’t someone who would have started alongside the likes of Harden, Westbrook, and center Clint Capela. However, the Rockets did recently lose one player who was expected to see meaningful minutes this season — veteran wingman Gerald Green, who went down with a fractured right foot in preseason action and is currently expected to miss the entire 2019-20 campaign, as reported last week by ESPN. The publication added that several Rockets reserves, including returning combo guard Austin Rivers, were expected to see an uptick in playing time due to Green’s injury.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) September 30, 2019
According to a report from Newsweek, the Rockets are currently a bit of a dark horse to win the 2020 NBA Finals, with most oddsmakers placing them behind the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference and the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference among this season’s top favorites to take home the Walter O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy.
The Rockets are scheduled to begin their 2019-20 regular season on Thursday, as the team will be hosting the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Bucks at the Toyota Center in Houston. While ClutchPoints noted that the game will be interesting due to the presence of three former MVPs, including Antetokounmpo, who won the coveted award last season, the outlet added that it will still be more important to see if Harden and Westbrook can coexist as two ball-dominant guards capable of big scoring numbers.