Today marks Day 60 since the Rockets began their offseason following their Game 5 loss to the Lakers.
In the past 60 days, Mike D’Antoni declined to engage in negotiations on a new contract, Daryl Morey stepped down as GM only to join another team days later, the Rockets hired Stephen Silas as the new head coach and promoted Rafael Stone to take over as GM.
The league has also confirmed a start date of December 22 to begin the new season. That’s 41 days away.
No team has undergone more change than the Rockets in the shortest offseason in NBA history, and it leaves the team’s cornerstones uncertain about what is next for the Rockets.
According to ESPN’s Tim McMahon and Adrian Wojnarowski, James Harden and Russell Westbrook are concerned about the direction the Rockets are heading.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook have expressed concerns about uncertainty of Rockets’ immediate future, sources told @wojespn and me. No trade requests have been made and Harden in particular remains engaged with front office in personnel discussions. https://t.co/kstEVb4EUI— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) November 11, 2020
This could easily be portrayed as Harden and Westbrook wanting out of Houston, but the article states that neither have requested a trade. However, the article doesn’t rule out that a trade request down the line could be coming from one or both of them.
The article also states that Harden has had a say in personnel decisions. He was consulted and sat in on coaching interviews and gave his stamp of approval to hire Silas as head coach. Westbrook gave the same approval.
Ever since the Rockets acquired Harden, he’s had a say on big, aggressive decisions to help him and the Rockets reach championship status. In 2013, he was part of the pitch to bring Dwight Howard to Houston. In 2017, he approved and welcomed bringing Chris Paul to Houston. In 2019, he pushed for the Rockets to trade for his new co-star Westbrook.
In the shortest offseason on record, the Rockets are not in a true position to make a whole lot of change to the players on the roster, which understandably concerns Harden, 31, and Westbrook, 32 in a few days.
With everything happening as quick as it is, it’s hard to make seismic changes during this offseason. But the Rockets have. No other team in the league has hired a new GM and head coach.
It’s not easy hearing your coach didn’t want to coach you anymore. It’s not easy hearing your GM preferred a new team over yours. And with D’Antoni and Morey jumping ship, Harden and Westbrook may be realizing that the boat is sinking.
However, the boat hasn’t sunk yet because Harden and Westbrook are still members of the Rockets. Once they leave, the boat sinks. They have a new captain, a first time captain at that, and that can be worrisome. However, the success ultimately rides on the players on the court. They have the most control over their destiny and if they wish to steer it in the right direction, Harden and Westbrook have to adapt.