For the first time in years, the Rockets seem to be in total disarray with the NBA season set to start in little over a month.
At least that’s what we are hearing.
Suddenly, Russell Westbrook no longer wants to play with James Harden or be in a Rockets uniform. Now Harden has decided that the most ideal place for him to play is Brooklyn, joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to form an explosive but problematic trio.
These rumors are swirling without an official word coming from either Harden or Westbrook.
But there have been major changes within the organization since the team’s run in the NBA Bubble was ended that could lead to unrest. Longtime general manager Daryl Morey and veteran head coach Mike D’Antoni have departed and have been replaced by neophytes Rafael Stone and Stephen Silas, respectively.
Still, there hasn’t been any sign from within the organization that the turmoil that is said to exist with the Rockets star backcourt is really a thing. In fact, it has been quite the opposite in the last couple of weeks.
Stone and Silas both expressed excitement in continuing to build around Harden and Westbrook. Silas said he met with both stars prior to being offered the Rockets job and came away excited they were interested in doing whatever is best for the team and translated to winning.
“I enjoyed my conversation with them,” Silas said. “They had questions that I enjoyed answering. I will keep that between us as far as what we talked about. But I’m beyond excited to coach both of those guys. They are so, so talented. We can do some things with those guys that you can’t do with everybody else.”
Stone had a deeper enthusiasm having been part of the brain trust that brought both Harden and Westbrook to Houston.
“I’m inheriting this team of guys I really like, led by James and Russ,” Stone said. “It’s really unique. Not very many people get this opportunity for the first time with these types of guys.”
While Stone and Silas certainly paint a rosier picture than the national media is of the relationship between the team and its two stars, there certainly could be something to the rumors.
Westbrook could indeed be on his way to the New York Knicks, a franchise that covets flashy and explosive guards like Westbrook. And Brooklyn might be the ideal landing spot for both Harden and the Rockets because the Nets have some exciting young players and the 19th overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft – all of which could be enticing for a rebuilding franchise.
It just doesn’t sound like the Rockets are quite there yet.
“For the last eight years our goal has been to win a championship because we had James Harden,” Stone said. “We still have James Harden and our goal is to win a championship. If you’ve got him then you are half way there. It’s incumbent upon me and Stephen and the whole team to figure out the rest of the whole, but the key piece is there.”