Report: Russell Westbrook wants to leave Rockets

Jason Owens
·2 min read

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook wants to leave the team, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports.

The news arrives on the heels of a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon that both Westbrook and James Harden share concerns about the future of the franchise. Both former MVP guards have expressed their concerns with team management and their agents, according to the report.

Offseason tumult follows early playoff exit

The Rockets lost to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in five games in the second round of the playoffs and have undergone a significant management shakeup this offseason.

Head coach Mike D’Antoni resigned shortly after the end of Houston’s season in September. Longtime general manager Daryl Morey left the team a month later. Both have taken new jobs since. D’Antoni joined Steve Nash’s coaching staff with the Brooklyn Nets while Morey joined the Philadelphia 76ers as head of basketball operations.

Houston Rockets' P.J. Tucker, left, and Russell Westbrook sit on the bench in the closing minutes of a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Russell Westbrook, right, is reportedly concerned about the direction of the franchise. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Rockets brass claims to be ‘all in’

The Rockets promoted longtime assistant general manager Rafael Stone to replace Morey. Veteran assisant and first-time NBA head coach Stephen Silas replaced D’Antoni. Stone told the Houston Chronicle last week that the Rockets remain “all in” on seeking a championship with the core built around Harden and Westbrook.

“We’re still all in,” Stone told the Chronicle. “Our goal is to win a championship. We’ll do anything we can to get us closer to that goal. ...

“In our situation, lots of [other teams] want our players. That’s a great place to be. You have to make sure if you do something, it makes you better. I’m very optimistic the team is going to be very competitive.”

Tough sell for Westbrook

Westbrook appears to be unconvinced. Harden, meanwhile, remains committed and is “locked in” for the season, per Charania.

A team that was built around Harden’s talents implementing Morey’s vision and D’Antoni’s small-ball scheme is now under new management in a loaded Western Conference. It’s difficult to see a path for this core to get out of the Western Conference.

Westbrook has three years remaining on a five-year, $207 million extension he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder prior to the trade that brought him to Houston last season. He has a player option for the 2022-23 season. If he wants out now, it’s going to be on the Rockets’ terms.

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