NBA executive says Rockets’ Russell Westbrook’s issue is he has never had real coaching in his career
Despite the Houston Rockets’ blockbuster acquisition of former league MVP Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder, some around the NBA aren’t sold on his fit alongside James Harden in Clutch City.
According to Vincent Good of Yahoo Sports, various league executives and coaches expressed skepticism of the Westbrook-Harden fit in Houston although the two one-time MVPs played together in OKC and reached the 2012 NBA Finals alongside Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.
“The issue is he’s never had real coaching since he’s been in the league,” one anonymous NBA executive said. “So how far gone is he? He probably would [buy] in, but you have to be willing to clash with him off the rip. Whether it’s front office or coach or player, you have to be willing to hold him accountable, to have that conversation. He’d respect you.”
Ever since Durant left the Thunder in 2016 to sign with the Golden State Warriors, it’s been mostly a one-man wrecking crew in OKC, with Westbrook putting up gaudy numbers and turning into a constant triple-double threat. The 30-year-old and eight-time All-Star will be presented with a new challenge, however, as he needs to adjust to a new coach, new teammates and new system.
Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni will be under plenty of scrutiny this upcoming season as he’s tasked with managing star guards Harden and Westbrook.
Since Westbrook’s UCLA days, where he was coached by Ben Howland, he’s only had three NBA-level head coaches: P.J. Carlesimo, Scott Brooks, and Billy Donovan. Now, he has to deal with his friend Harden and the two-time Coach of the Year D’Antoni.