In light of Russell Westbrook’s request to be traded from the Houston Rockets, ESPN and Sirius XM analyst Amin Elhassan explained why Westbrook may want out of Houston.
When reports surfaced that All-NBA point guard Russell Westbrook was requesting a trade from the Houston Rockets, many began to speculate as to why Westbrook would ask for such a thing. After all, Westbrook was coming off of a stellar season in his franchise debut, as he made both the All-Star team and the All-NBA team, despite having knee surgery prior to the start of the season.
Westbrook averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and seven assists, while being one of only three players to score 1500 points, grab 450 rebounds, and dish out 400 assists. Westbrook was injured prior to the start of the playoffs and was unable to maintain his high level of play during the postseason, as he averaged 17.9 points and 4.6 assists, which were each postseason lows for the 12-year guard.
Westbrook’s drop-off in the postseason made it even more surprising that he was requesting to be dealt, as he’s known to be one of the most competitive players in the NBA and surely didn’t want his Rockets days to be remembered for his postseason performance, when he clearly wasn’t himself. Add in the fact that Westbrook made it to the second round of the postseason for the first time since 2015-16 and his trade request simply didn’t make sense.
ESPN analyst and Sirius XM NBA radio analyst Amin Elhassan offered a potential explanation as to why Westbrook would suddenly want out of the Houston Rockets, in spite of the aforementioned circumstances, citing Westbrook’s star backcourt teammate’s desire to also leave the franchise as reason to want the same.
“The Russell Westbrook part, my guess is that it’s probably tied to that. Thinking that, well if James doesn’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here.”
NBA insider explains why Westbrook requested trade from Rockets
We should first point out that Elhassan was purely speculating, but his reasoning is different than what we’ve heard, as it’s been reported that Westbrook wanted to return to his prior role with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which seemed hard to believe, as Westbrook surely knew his role would be different playing alongside James Harden. We had also heard that Westbrook felt uncomfortable with the Rockets’ offense, which seemed hard to believe, as the Rockets changed coaches from Mike D’Antoni to Stephen Silas, and Westbrook has yet to play a game under Silas, so he wouldn’t know whether or not he felt uncomfortable yet.
Elhassan’s reasoning seems more plausible than the other reasons, as Westbrook was lured to the Rockets by Harden and chose to play alongside his longtime childhood friend, as opposed to joining other teams last offseason. For this reason, it would be hard to blame the former MVP for wanting to leave, in light of Harden seeking to bail on him and the Rockets, in order to join a new star-studded team, in the Brooklyn Nets, who already have both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant under contract long-term.
The Rockets rejected both Harden and Westbrook’s trade requests, opting to run it back, which was the wise decision, as Westbrook could benefit from a presumably healthy season and also stands to benefit from a season of sharing the backcourt with Harden.
The Rockets also added rising star Christian Wood, who many see as a poor man’s Kevin Durant, to form their own “Big Three” in Houston, not to mention adding former All-NBA center DeMarcus Cousins. If the Rockets get off to a strong start in 2020-21, both Harden and Westbrook will likely be singing different tunes, as it pertains to wanting out of Houston.
The good thing is that the season is set to start soon, meaning we won’t have to wait much longer to see the new-look Rockets take the court.