The James Harden and Russell Westbrook era in Houston looks finished. The era never really got off the ground either as the Rockets struggled at times during the regular season. But the Rockets did finish the regular season strong winning 44 games. But they looked lost at times and were in 5th to 7th place for much of the season.
Harden and Westbrook never worked together. Both are ball-dominant guards who are score first options. The Rockets, and coach Mike D’Antoni, made sure both of the superstar players got their points. Harden averaged 34 points per game and Westbrook 27, but this came at the cost of other players. Bigman Clint Capela was rendered useless by the style of play and he was shipped off to Atlanta at the deadline. The Rockets as a team looked influx all season long.
The Rockets are just 2 seasons removed from being the top seed in the west and a historic Game 7 shooting slump away from the NBA finals. After that game 7 shooting slump the Rockets just never seemed the same. They finished the 2019 season in 4th place and were bounced early in the 2nd round. They tried revamping their team by trading Chris Paul to Oklahoma City for Russell Westbrook. This move did not seem to help either as the Rockets finished 4th once again, and once again an early 2nd round exit.
James Harden has reportedly given the Rockets a list of teams he would be interested in playing for. The list includes Miami, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn. All three teams are also reportedly interested in Harden as well
The one issue Houston may encounter with several of these teams is lack of assets. They all have stars, but they are likely hoping to match their stars with Harden for a super team.
The Sixers are the most likely candidate. They still have a hoard of draft picks, though most are 2nd rounders. The Sixers could part ways with Ben Simmons, which is who the Rockets would want in any deal with the Sixers.
Harden along with Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris would make the Sixers a very strong contender in the east.
Likewise, if the Nets could convince the Rockets to take back a package of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Spencer Dinwiddie, than the Nets would be the favorites in the east with Harden repairing with his old Oklahoma City team mate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
The Heat are also interested. The Heat who are the defending eastern champions do have some young players like Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro. Though Miami may have the least interest in rocking the boat.
As for Westbrook, no contenders have come forward yet. But some teams who would be interested would include Boston, New York and Chicago.
Time will only tell what the Rockets will do, but its clear that changes are coming to Clutch City. The Rockets have already parted ways with D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey, and it just so happpens that Morey (Philadelphia) and D’Antonio (Brooklyn) have moved on to teams bidding for Harden.