Beyond the Arc
by Ben Fiore
I’m not going to say we saw this coming… but we saw this coming.
When the Oklahoma City Thunder began trade talks back in 2018-2019 concerning Russell Westbrook, the Houston Rockets were not initially even in the conversation. There were talks around a lot of Eastern Conference power houses like Miami and Toronto. When the Rockets emerged as the favorite, many were surprised. Reuniting him with James Harden was a nice sentimental idea, but was it the best fit? I think we all clearly knew the answer to that was no.
This past week, rumors have started flying that Russ is not happy in Houston. After the departure of coach Mike D’antoni and GM Daryl Morey, Westbrook was having a hard time figuring out what direction the Rockets were headed. Their team is not as deep as it once was, leaving most of the load on the shoulders of 31 year old Harden and 32 year old Westbrook. Their “small ball” attack plan is clearly not effective either. PJ Tucker did his best, but the man is a SF or PF at MOST. That’s why Anthony Davis ate him up in the 2nd round.
Russ also did NOT play very well at all in the post season. He did fairly well in the regular season, but wasn’t the MVP Russ we remember. He also isn’t the “go to guy” in Houston either. Harden has proven to be one of the most effective scorers in the league. If anyone gets the ball on that team it should be him. Since Kevin Durant’s departure from OKC, it has been evidently clear that Russ needs to be ” the guy” for him to succeed personally. His partnerships with Paul George and now James Harden have proved that Westbrook just isn’t as “danger-russ” as when he’s the one man show. I truly believe he is a future Hall of Famer, but he’s the type of guy who needs to have total control to perform at the peak of his potential. I think he would ruin a team like the Heat and the chemistry they’ve built. I would like to say he would be a great addition to a team like the Jazz, Raptors or Pacers but he honestly needs to go to a franchise that will start over and build around him even if it is a short term 2-3 year stint.
There is no doubt that he is one of the most aggressive finishing and versatile point guards the game has ever seen. Although that ” give me the ball, get out of the way” mentality can be a cancer to a lot of locker rooms. Regardless, we are left wondering where he will end up now. If he really does leave, will he go to a contender, or a team of his own? And despite saying this player would like to finish their career in Houston, could the Rockets’ gloomy future cause James Harden to follow suit? A lot hanging in the balance for Houston. As for Russell Westbrook, it seems pretty certain that Brodie has left the building.