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Rockets on win-now mode, will worry about Russell Westbrook down the line

Rockets, Russell Westbrook

When the Houston Rockets acquired former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Chris Paul and picks, it could only mean one thing: time to put up or shut up.

Via Evan McIntyre of The Athletic, a source close to the Rockets organization echoes that sentiment.

“We’re trying to win now. What happens two, three years down [the line] doesn’t concern us at the moment. We’ll figure it out when it’s time”

The Rockets have been stymied in the postseason in recent years despite the MVP-worthy efforts brought by star shooting guard James Harden. Houston has lost to Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in two consecutive playoff trips; in 2018 in the conference finals and this past May in the second round.

In spite of Paul’s influence helping Houston get one win away from the NBA Finals, general manager Daryl Morey instead opted to roll the dice and send Paul to OKC for Harden’s former running mate in Westbrook, the 30-year-old point guard who spent the entirety of his 11-year career with the Thunder. Harden and Westbrook, along with Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, went to the 2012 NBA Finals, losing in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Now the Rockets to seek to pound opponents with the one-two punch of Harden and Westbrook—steak and sizzle incarnate.

While the athletic Westbrook has a massive contract that will eat up the salary cap in the future—he signed a supermax extension that signs him through 2022, with a $46.6 million player option for 2023—the Rockets are seemingly unconcerned with their finances down the road and alternatively only care about the on-court value the eight-time All-Star brings to the team.

Harden and Westbrook; if this doesn’t work, what can for the Rockets?