The Houston Rockets traded for Russell Westbrook last summer with the hope that pairing him with James Harden would give them a better chance of dominating the Western Conference and capturing the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Unfortunately, despite having two former MVPs on their roster, they still failed to achieve their main goal as they were easily eliminated by LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the 2020 playoffs. With their inability to contend for the NBA championship, rumors are circulating that the Rockets could lose both Westbrook and Harden this offseason.
With their two best players likely finding their way out of Houston, they might be left with no choice but to start entertaining trade offers for them this fall. However, they aren't expected to move "The Beard" and "The Brodie" just for the sake of granting their requests, and they are likely to make sure that any move would be beneficial for the franchise. In a recent article, Tim MacMahon of ESPN revealed the Rockets' asking price for their two former MVPs.
"The Rockets are demanding an especially steep return for Harden, a perennial MVP candidate who has led the NBA in scoring the past three seasons: a proven, young star as a centerpiece along with a massive picks package, according to sources. Houston does not feel obligated to deliver Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, his preferred destination, sources said. The Rockets also understand that Westbrook, for whom Houston gave up Chris Paul, two first-round picks and two pick swaps last summer at Harden's urging, would not command the same type of trade return as Harden. However, Houston is unwilling to deal Westbrook without receiving assets such as young talent or first-round picks."
It's understandable why the Rockets are expecting a good haul for Westbrook and Harden. Despite failing to end the team's title drought last season, they are still two of the best active players in the league. Both superstars are in their prime and would bring tremendous help to any team that may be in dire need of a backcourt boost and additional star power on their roster. However, as of now, it remains a big question mark if interested teams are willing to pay their asking price.
Though they have already expressed their desire to leave, MacMahon revealed that Houston feels no pressure and isn't in a rush to move their star guards. Rockets general manager Rafael Stone reportedly remains adamant that they wouldn't be trading Westbrook and Harden unless a team meets their demand. If potential suitors would hesitate to give them what they want this offseason, Houston might have no problem starting the training camp and the 2020-21 season with Westbrook and Harden on their roster.
If they successfully trade both superstars, it may be clearer where the team is heading. The Rockets have already begun collecting assets that would help them speed up the rebuilding process in the expected post-Harden era. They recently traded Robert Covington to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Trevor Ariza, the No. 16 pick, and a future first-rounder, and there is speculation that they are planning to buy a late first-round pick or an early second-rounder in the upcoming NBA Draft.