It's time to move on

Here's why the clock is ticking for the Rockets' front office

The time is now. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Houston Rockets clearly have some big decisions to make with James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Harden has made an assertive effort to become a Net, so he can join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, and the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks are showing interest in Russell Westbrook.

So far, Rockets' GM Rafael Stone has welcomed back Trevor Ariza, along with a 2020 and 2021 first-round draft pick for Robert Covington, which the Rockets desperately needed. This move disappointed some of the Rockets' fanbase because of the affection they showed for Covington. But with every hour that passes before the NBA Draft this Wednesday night, the Rockets' front office gets closer to dealing Harden off to the Nets, as he wanted.

Monday night, it was reported that Harden turned down a $103 million dollar extension from the Rockets. Ever since Durant planted seeds inside of Harden's head in Los Angeles during a workout, Harden has pushed the Rockets to trade him to Brooklyn. The Rockets' front office became less likely to grant Harden's request because of the likely return they would receive from the Nets and the 76ers, who have also shown interest. Daryl Morey, former GM of the Rockets and now the President of Player Operations for the 76ers, did not like the idea of giving up Ben Simmons for Harden, so the Rockets moved on.

As the Rockets' front office patiently waits for a proper deal from the Nets, Westbrook's trade request has become difficult. The trade market for Westbrook has become slim, meaning only two teams want him, which is the Hornets and Knicks. Michael Jordan is focusing all his efforts to bring Westbrook to the Hornets. As many people know, Westbrook is signed with Jordan's company. Hopefully, Westbrook receives his request from the Rockets.

But why does Westbrook and Harden want out of Houston? It's because Harden and Westbrook were left out of the hiring process of Stephen Silas and Rafael Stone. Tilman Fertitta did not verbalize the hiring process with Westbrook and Harden. Both players felt left out which did not sit well with them.

Hopefully, the Rockets can complete the deals by Tuesday night because the draft is Wednesday, and draft picks are needed.

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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

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