The Houston Rockets introduced Russell Westbrook on Friday afternoon in a business-like setting, no fans, no festivals, and made it clear that the focus is solely on winning a Larry O’Brien trophy.
The past two big-name offseason acquisitions for the Rockets have been surrounded with optimism and hype. For both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, the Rockets threw huge celebrations when introducing them, but unfortunately, neither acquisitions resulted in championships.
With Russell Westbrook, the atmosphere was different. The Rockets did not host a huge fan celebration; they did not bring in team legends to buildup buzz for the season; the sole focus was on Westbrook and the team’s goal.
When asked about other dynamic duos around the league, Westbrook made it clear that he’s only focused on one team, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
“I only care about one team. The Houston Rockets.”
Westbrook’s comments were a perfect reflection of the atmosphere at the Toyota Center.
After an offseason filled with rumors about drama and trades, it seems like the Rockets are tired of the outside noise and only want to win.
When questioned about his potential fit with the Rockets, Westbrook made sure to emphasize that he can be effective and impact the game without having the ball in his hands.
Westbrook stated that he has very little concern about the fit and is looking forward to playing with the Rockets roster.
Players go on hot and cold streaks all the time, but for Westbrook, it appears that he values effort night-in and night-out and believes it will lead to good things for Houston.
It is clear that Westbrook is excited for the opportunity to play with the Rockets and with James Harden again.
As mentioned earlier, “The Brodie” does not believe that playing off-ball will be a problem. He’s willing to help out in any way, as noted by The Athletic’s Alykhan Bijani.
“I think I can help a lot on the rebounding and get into the passing lanes. Maybe throw a couple lobs to James if we still got it.”
The Rockets believe that the re-union of Russell Westbrook and James Harden will help them finally be able to get over the hump in the West and beyond.
Reading between the lines
Towards the end of the news conference, Daryl Morey teased about not being finished building their roster, via Jonathan Feigen.
“If there a significant guy we can get, it will most likely be via trade at this point,” Morey said. “We’re never done.”
Of course, there is plenty of room for speculation with this quote from Daryl Morey.
As of Friday afternoon, the Rockets have one roster spot available.
If Houston cannot pull-off a high-profile acquisition for a proven player, it is likely that the Rockets go the route of signing a young/unproven player and give him the opportunity to make the roster as they’ve done with Ben McLemore and Anthony Bennett.
Friday afternoon made one thing clear, it is clearly championship or bust for the Rockets.