It's time to move on

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

Here's why the clock is ticking for the Rockets' front office
The time is now. Composite image by Jack Brame.
How playoff seeding in the bubble could cause an unexpected twist for Rockets

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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Astros defeat the Orioles, 5-1. Composite Getty Image.

Ronel Blanco pitched seven strong innings and Chas McCormick homered twice to lead the Houston Astros to a 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

Yordan Alvarez added a two-run shot to help Houston extend its winning streak to four games.

Blanco (8-2), who threw seven hitless innings in his last start, allowed four hits and a run with three strikeouts for his third straight win.

Alvarez put the Astros on top with his 16th homer, which came off Corbin Burnes (8-3) in the third, and McCormick made it 4-1 in the fifth. McCormick got his fifth career multihomer game when he connected again in the eighth.

Burnes allowed five hits, including a season-high two homers and a season-most four runs in seven innings to snap his career-best streak of 10 consecutive quality starts. He was 5-0 in seven starts since a loss at Washington on May 7.

Jordan Westburg homered in the second for the Orioles, who set a franchise record with 21 straight games with a home run to surpass the 1998 squad's 20-game streak.

Baltimore had troubled stringing hits together Saturday after scoring 28 runs combined in the last two games. The top four batters in their order combined to go 1 for 13 against Blanco and Houston's bullpen.

Ryan Pressly threw a scoreless eighth before Josh Hader struck out two in a perfect ninth to end it.

Westburg connected off Blanco with one out in the second to put the Orioles up 1-0.

Yainer Diaz opened Houston’s second with a triple on a line drive to right field. The Astros tied it when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Mauricio Dubón with one out.

McCormick singled with no outs in the third and the shot to center field by Alvarez came with two outs to put Houston on top 3-1.

McCormick’s home run to the seats in left field extended the lead to 4-1 with one out in the fifth.

Cedric Mullins tripled off the wall in center with one out in the seventh. Colton Cowser hit a sharp line drive, but was robbed of a hit when shortstop Jeremy Peña made a leaping catch for the second out. Blanco then retired Ramón Urías to end the inning and leave Mullins stranded.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Jake Bloss, who made his major league debut Friday night, was placed on the injured list with right shoulder discomfort.

ROSTER MOVES

Astros: RHP Nick Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land on Friday night. ... LHP Bryan King was selected to the MLB roster and RHP Luis Contreras was recalled from Sugar Land on Saturday. … RHP Alex Speas was designated for assignment.

UP NEXT

Houston LHP Framber Valdez (5-5, 3.91 ERA) opposes RHP Albert Suárez (3-1, 2.05) in the series finale Sunday.

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