16 Players the Houston Rockets gave up on way too soon

Houston Rockets, Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry
Houston Rockets, Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry / Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
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14. Russell Westbrook

Westbrook exited Oklahoma City after 11 seasons with the franchise in 2019. He had made five straight All-Star and All-NBA appearances, and the 30-year-old was still at his peak. Westbrook was reuniting with former teammate James Harden in Houston as he looked to help the Rockets get over the top after seven straight playoff appearances. It cost them Chris Paul, two first-round picks, and two first-round picks swaps, but the franchise believed it enhanced their title odds.

His tenure with the Rockets lasted just one season. Westbrook averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.6 steals in the COVID-shortened season as Houston finished fourth in the Western Conference and was knocked out by the eventual champion Lakers in the second round of the playoffs. Westbrook struggled in the bubble playoffs and quickly asked out.

The 6’3 guard was named third-team All-NBA in his lone season with the Rockets, but there was no reunion. Westbrook was shipped to Washington for John Wall and one first-round draft pick where he averaged 22.2 points and led the league in assists per game.

Could Russell Westbrook and James Harden have broken through in year two and helped the Houston Rockets win a championship? Fans will never know because the team abandoned the experiment after just one season. It was shocking to see them dump a third-team All-NBA guard, but it turned into the start of a rebuild.