When it rains it pours, and it sure is pouring in Houston right now.
The biggest news item on Wednesday was that Russell Westbrook and his $132.63 million contact, have made it clear he wants out of Houston. This comes on the heels of departures by former head coach Mike D’Antoni and longtime general manager Daryl Morey, who was quickly scooped up by the Philadelphia 76ers.
But that’s just the beginning according to a report in The Athletic, that pointed to issues throughout the roster and organization.
Westbrook’s desire to leave is due in large part to issues with the Rockets’ culture, and a wish for more team-wide accountability, most specifically from James Harden. Westbrook reportedly feels that he’s the only person in the organization who is holding the former MVP accountable, something he feels will become even more difficult without D’Antoni and Morey in the fold.
Part of the reason last season was considered a “mess” by sources speaking with The Athletic is due to issues with more than just the team’s stars. P.J. Tucker was apparently irate with his contract situation all season long, upset that the organization has dragged their feet on giving him a raise considering he’s making just $8 million a year.
Then there’s Eric Gordon, who is upset at his inconsistent role, which fluctuated from coming off the bench to being relied on to carry the scoring load at times. He wants his role defined and clear, according to The Athletic.
Daniel House was also unhappy with his usage last season, and verbally challenged D’Antoni, Harden and Westbrook during the season, including a January outburst where he publicly lost his cool.
Austin Rivers has already publicly declined his player option for next season. At one point last season, he went on an “expletive-laden tirade” following a game in which D’Antoni called for him to be substituted, only to change his mind and insert Demarre Carroll. In another hilarious incident, Harden got upset with Rivers for making him miss a free throw, because he was standing on the bench.
None of this is good for the Rockets, who proved to be the Warriors biggest challengers in the West during the past half decade. Houston famously was never able to finish off Golden State, and moves like bringing in Westbrook were seen as desperation signings to try and get over that hump.
It appears that experiment has failed, and the way things look right now, Houston’s time as the Warriors’ conference rivals may have run its course.