September 17, 2020
NBA Rumors: Trading Russell Westbrook 'Would Be Ideal' For Houston Rockets, Per 'HoopsHype'

The Houston Rockets traded for Russell Westbrook last summer with the hope that pairing him with James Harden could boost their chances dominating the Western Conference and bringing home the Larry O'Brien Trophy in the 2019-20 NBA season. Unfortunately, the Westbrook-Harden combo didn't give the Rockets the result they wanted as they were eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the playoffs. After falling short, rumors have started to swirl around Westbrook and his future with the Rockets.

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the "consensus" around the league is that it "would be ideal" for the Rockets to trade Westbrook -- and the three years and $132.5 million left on his contract -- in the 2020 offseason. He may have posted incredible numbers in his first season in Houston, averaging 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, seven assists, and 1.6 steals while shooting 47.2 percent from the field, per ESPN, but some people are still questioning his fit alongside Harden.

Though they showed great chemistry at points during the regular season, an anonymous Eastern Conference coach who spoke to HoopsHype said he doesn't think that Westbrook is a good compliment to Harden. If it was up to him, the Eastern Conference coach believes that the Rockets are better off trading the former MVP for two quality players that perfectly fit Harden's game.

"Westbrook isn't a good compliment for anyone, in my opinion," he was quoted as saying. "He has to be the main guy. He can't shoot. He needs the ball. He's not an off-ball player. Hard to play with two max guys who need the ball. Maybe it's possible, but it seems like two good players instead of Westbrook would be better the way they play."

Russell Westbrook, wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey, congratulates Houston Rockets teammate James Harden.
Getty Images | Kevin C. Cox

Even since he arrived in Houston, there has been doubt about Westbrook coexisting with Harden in the Rockets' backcourt. Both superstars may have previously teamed up in Oklahoma City, but during that time, Harden was only the sixth man. In Houston, Harden isn't only a starter, but he's also the face of the franchise and the No. 1 option on the offensive end of the floor.

In order to adjust to the system in Houston, Westbrook needed to adjust his game. This included receiving fewer touches, which clearly affected his efficiency. Though he doesn't seem to have any problem playing the second fiddle, his struggles on-court were noticeable. His perimeter shooting also got worse, with some teams no longer seeing the need to defend him when he's at the three-point range.

If the Rockets decide to part ways with Westbrook, there will surely be teams who will express a strong interest in adding him to their roster this fall. However, it remains a big question mark if they are willing to pay a king's ransom to absorb Westbrook and his lucrative contract.