The Pros and a Few Cons to adding the Triple Double Machine to the Rockets

Should the Rockets pursue Westbrook? Why or why not?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Last weekend when the Oklahoma City Thunder traded all-star Paul George, it signaled the end of an era and put the wheels in motion for the franchise to wave the white flag, hit the reset button and begin the tough process of starting over. Before they can move forward, however, there is still one big piece to move and that would be finding a trade partner or partners to consummate a trade for Russell Westbrook, their final remaining superstar. Say what you will about the passionate and outspoken former MVP, you can never question his ridiculous athleticism, incredible basketball abilities and the knack he has for overstuffing a stat sheet. After the initial shock felt around the basketball world when PG13 was sent packing, the rumors started flying about potential teams that might be interested in Westbrook and where he could end up when the smoke clears and GM Sam Presti has pulled the trigger on the last big deal of the summer of 2019. Miami, Minnesota, and Detroit were mentioned as the front runners to obtain the former MVP's services, but there was also a "long shot" mentioned in the Houston Rockets who are desperate for a big move that can catapult the team forward as it heads into next season.

Rockets Chris Paul , James Harden, Clint Capela Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

If you are the Rockets why would you try and trade for Westbrook? Well for starters he has a great relationship with James Harden dating back to their days playing together in OKC. The two have remained close and Harden would love to add a player of Russ's caliber to his Houston squad as they try and re-tool for another run at the Western Conference. Both train in Los Angeles in the offseason and they frequently scrimmage together with a full complement of other NBA players on the campus of UCLA. The bigger question when considering adding Westbrook to the Rockets is at what price is the franchise willing to pay? The city seems to be over the Chris Paul love affair and would prefer a divorce gets done before training camp starts instead of marriage counseling and attempting to rekindle the fire between the Beard and CP3. Would Sam Presti take Paul's remaining contract of 3 years and 125 million dollars remaining for Russ or would the deal require a third team? Would the Thunder be more inclined to consider Clint Capella, Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker, and draft picks instead? As a fan, which deal would you feel better about? On one hand, you have Harden, Westbrook and a full complement of quality secondary players around them or you get 3 future Hall of Famers, Austin Rivers, Danuel House, Gerald Green and a remaining roster comprised of free agents coming from a small pool of remaining available veterans.

Rockets Chris Paul James Harden, Heat Butler Dragic Composite photo by Brandon Strange

Another reason the Rockets may pursue Westbrook is GM Daryl Morey is feeling the pressure of an owner in Tilman Fertitta who wants change and improvement and so far has seen little to make him feel good about achieving either with his teams' offseason activity to this point in the summer. Morey has wavered on his plan for next season, one day saying his team should be the favorite in the West next year because he has his entire starting lineup still intact while promising to add a quality free agent, then two days later swinging for the fences in trying to trade away three of his five starters in separate deals to stockpile first round picks in an attempt to bring in all-star Jimmy Butler in a blockbuster trade scenario. Morey can't get his story straight and the fans are getting restless, and no doubt so is the owner that has a deep desire to bring the Larry O'Brien trophy back to H-town after a 25-year absence. After all the optimism and hope the fans of Houston had heading into free agency, there is an overall feeling of despair and disappointment as time keeps on ticking on the Rockets future with every passing day and free agents keep signing everywhere but Houston. CEO Tad Brown promised fireworks this offseason with Fertitta at the helm, but unless he meant the show on July 4th that lit up the night sky of the Bayou City, so far we have seen nothing short of a few smoke bombs and a fizzling sparkler. Adding Russell Westbrook would be the kind of "Woj Bomb" that would allow the franchise and its GM to exhale while giving Fertitta, the city and its fanbase reason for optimism going forward.

Rockets Chris Paul, Tilman Fertitta Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

So I've given you a few reasons why the Rockets should consider adding Westbrook, but what about a little reality check as to why they should pass on the point guard and move forward without him? For all Russ does well and believe me there are plenty of skills he has mastered, he is still a scorer and not a shooter. He shoots at a high volume, but at a lower than ideal percentage, especially from distance which is a prerequisite for being a Rockets player under coach Mike D' Antoni. He struggles to knock down the 3-ball while demanding the ball be in his hands for the majority of each possession his team has in any given game. Sound Familiar? Well it should, because no one has the ball in his hands more for his team on a night by night basis than Harden. Could the two co-exist on the court together, on the same team? Would there be enough balls to go around to make everyone happy? If Paul and Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers were frustrated at the end of last season with ball distribution what would they feel like if Westbrook was added to the mix? How would Russ feel and could he handle sharing the rock with Harden and deferring to him during crunch time? If he couldn't handle playing second fiddle to Kevin Durant, would he even consider trying it again with Harden? Sure trading for Russ would be a huge splash and garner a ton of publicity, but would it end up backfiring on the franchise when all that exposure turned negative the first time the Beard and his Brodie got sideways? The last thing anyone in this town wants is another chapter in what has been a soap opera of an off-season in H-town. Oh, by the way, did I mention that Russ is going to make 170 million dollars over the next 4 years? That might be the single biggest reason why not. If you thought CP3's contract was bad, do you really want to pay Westbrook over 47 million dollars in the final year of his deal at the age of 34?

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome