Houston Rockets fans were left speechless and worried most of last night after The Athletic reported that there was a lot of fire and frustration throughout the locker room the past couple of seasons.
Several negative reports flowed in Wednesday night bashing Houston’s culture, system, and desire to win.
The biggest news of it all was that superstar point guard Russell Westbrook has requested a trade.
After just one season with the Rockets, Westbrook wants to leave Houston and play elsewhere.
Westbrook’s role has reduced largely compared to his OKC days, where he was the heart and sole of the Thunder offense.
It was a problem a lot of fans and analysts exposed while the Rockets made the move for Westbrook, the ball dominance.
Ball dominance is key for both Harden and Westbrook, both are players that play with a flow and are constantly in position to score.
The Rockets had to trade away Chris Paul and a first-round pick for Westbrook, and has not paid off. But it’s not just Westbrook who is through with the organization.
Eric Gordon signed a contract with Houston back in 2016, winning the Sixth Man of the Year in 2017.
Gordon believes his role has diminished heavily since his breakout year with the Rockets, fueling his frustration with the organization.
This season, Gordon played a career-low in minutes, resulting in career lows in both FG% and 3PT%.
Gordon wanted to play more minutes alongside James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but prior head coach Mike D’Antoni’s system did not allow the three-point shooter to flourish.
Playing in Gordon’s spot, was Danuel House.
House was also left unsatisfied with his role, despite playing over 30 minutes per game. House averaged just 8.6 shots per game, and his frustration is based on interactions with the coaching staff, and James Harden.
Austin Rivers announced that he was rejecting his $2 million player option, and becoming a free agent this offseason.
Rivers went from playing 28.6 minutes per game in the 2018-19 season, to 23.4 minutes in 2019-20.
Rivers leaves Houston obviously unhappy with his role, looking to take his talents elsewhere.
The Athletic reported, “Former teammates have described the culture in Houston as problematic, sources said, highlighting a situation that caters far too much to its stars.”
The Houston Rockets reportedly had an opportunity to bring veteran forward Trevor Ariza back into the organization, but he wanted an apology that never came.
Since Ariza’s departure, he has struggled to stay consistent playing on the Kings and Trailblazers.
Ariza said there was a ‘lack of respect’ for him in Houston.
Houston players were extremely frustrated with Mike D’Antoni’s system, as the ball revolves around James Harden, and Russell Westbrook upon his arrival.
Players believe that D’Antoni’s reckless system was the reason the Rockets failed in Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals.
D’Antoni had the Rockets shooting several threes that were terribly called, ending the game with an NBA record of 27-straight missed three point attempts.
Trading big man Clint Capela didn’t help the Rockets locker room as it forced players to do more outside of their comfort zone on the court.
Houston players also never agreed with the ‘small-ball’ approach as it left them with a large disadvantage in the playoffs.
James Harden has stated he is ‘ready’ and ‘locked in’ for next season, implying he plans on staying in Houston.
With Russell Westbrook requesting a trade, the Rockets will now look to find the highest offer that is in the best interest of the organization.
Westbrook’s ideal landing spots are the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Milwaukee Bucks.
The New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, and Phoenix Suns are also keeping their eye on Westbrook.
If James Harden were to request a trade it would most definitely be to a contender.
Teams that have a close eye on Harden are the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, and Miami Heat.