The Houston Rockets held their Media Day on Friday and gave their fans plenty of sound bytes and reasons to be excited about the season.
With training camp beginning Saturday, the Houston Rockets made themselves available to the media on Friday to answer questions about the state of the team, the addition of Russell Westbrook, championship aspirations and more. Everyone from GM Daryl Morey to Coach Mike D’Antoni to the Rockets themselves opened up about the upcoming season and what the city of Houston can expect.
While the trade for superstar Russell Westbrook has caused endless speculation in the media regarding whether the Rockets will be able to make his pairing with James Harden work, the organization isn’t letting that distract them.
A common theme emerged with every individual that was interviewed at Media Day, and that was the ultimate goal of winning an NBA Championship. Here are some of the highlights from several within the Houston Rockets organization talking about winning the Larry O’Brien trophy in June:
James Harden has earned just about every individual accolade you can earn in the NBA, but realizes now is the time for the ultimate team accomplishment. After several heartbreaking playoff finishes, Harden seemed more excited and motivated than ever to get the season started with new superstar teammate Russell Westbrook to share the floor with.
The team shared a quote from The Beard that cuts right down to the chase:
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) September 27, 2019
While often being asked about topics such as how the Rockets can adjust to having him and Russ in the same backcourt, James repeatedly kept bringing it back around to winning a title. Harden understands that the task of winning an NBA Championship starts from the beginning with training camp, as he told the press, “Tomorrow starts a journey of doing something great.”
Harden also appeared on The Matt Thomas Show on SportsTalk 790 to further discuss his expectations for the season:
“We’re gonna make it work. Each individual has gotten better and we have a vet group that is willing to sacrifice anything to win, and that’s all you can ask for going into a season. With the sacrifices we all go through, hopefully, it’s going to lead to a championship at the end of the year. That’s the goal.”
The Beard appears locked and loaded on one goal more than ever this season, and that will spell danger for the rest of the league as the season quickly approaches.
Austin Rivers has played for four different NBA teams throughout his seven years in the league, including some talented Los Angeles Clippers teams. Still, though, the talented guard admitted on The Matt Thomas Show that he’s never really felt like any of his teams had a realistic chance of winning it all until now:
“I’ve been in the league for eight years. This is probably the first year in my career where I can realistically say aloud that we really do have a chance of winning. Those opportunities don’t come often, so that’s what coming back here was all about.”
Since his arrival in Houston, Rivers has fallen in love with the city, organization and fans. The journeyman has even gone as far as to say his current time with Houston is the happiest he’s ever been in his career. Any time there’s a player that’s all-in and willing to do whatever it takes to help the team succeed, it can only mean positive things.
Austin explained to the NBA press that the Houston Rockets already have what they need to win an NBA Championship, as Rockets insider Alykhan Bijani shared on Twitter:
Austin Rivers: “I think we got everything we need to win a championship. I don’t think we need anything else.” #Rockets
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) September 27, 2019
Considering how the roster looks now, it’s hard to find fault with Austin’s logic. The Rockets are solid at every position and can get the job done if they can manage to get everyone to gel at the right time.
Although the Houston Rockets already look like a championship team on paper, you can bet Daryl Morey will still keep looking for ways to improve the roster all the way until the trade deadline. Morey reiterated to the media on Friday that owner Tilman Fertitta gave him the green light this season to go all out for a ring, as RocketsWire Editor Ben DuBose tweeted:
"I worry about winning, and so does Tilman. … I know Tilman has told me I can do whatever it takes to win the title."
— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) September 27, 2019
Sitting next to Mike D’Antoni at the press table, Daryl Morey expressed his excitement for the team and their ability to take a title to H-Town, saying, “We feel really good about a lot of the players. (There are) 10, 11, 12 guys that we think can contribute to a championship team and now we gotta see if we can go out there and do it.”
Still, the kind of freedom Fertitta is giving Morey is exactly what a GM like him needs, as he’s already made headlines with his unorthodox contracts and “significantly partially guaranteed” deals. It would not at all be surprising if Morey had another trick or two up his sleeve before the playoffs come around this season.
Everyone on the Houston Rockets seems to be focused on one thing only and that’s winning. Come Saturday, the launch sequence for a mission to the NBA Finals will officially begin, and Rockets fans have plenty of reasons to be excited.