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Rockets’ Russell Westbrook, James Harden never considered teaming back up on Thunder

James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Rockets, Thunder

James Harden had a short-lived stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder, never getting signed past his rookie contract and traded to the Houston Rockets. Many thought he was pried from former teammates Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant way too soon, yet The Beard never discussed returning to OKC for a reunion.

Harden and Westbrook opened up about how they reunited on the Rockets and how the two never planned to join forces in Oklahoma City.

Per Mark Anthony Green of GQ:

If the goal was for you guys to play together again, did you ever discuss James going back to OKC?

Westbrook: Discuss James coming to OKC?

Yeah.

Westbrook: Oh, nah! [laughs] No, that wasn’t a thought.

Harden: It’s impossible.

It’s impossible?

Harden: It’s impossible.

Why?

Westbrook: I never thought about that until now. [laughs]

Harden: I just felt like he gave, what, 12 amazing years. We’ve all seen Russ grow as a player. I just felt like it was time for a change. And I think everybody just needed it.

Westbrook and Harden came up as one of the most explosive backcourt scoring tandems, and one that was broken up way too soon when The Beard was traded to Houston in 2012.

The Beard carved out his own legend in Houston, emerging as a top-of-the-line scorer as a first option for the Rockets and coming out of the shadow of his elder statesmen: Durant and Westbrook.

Now reunited, James Harden and Russell Westbrook have reminded the league of how potent they can be in the same backcourt, providing a contrast of breakneck pace in the open court and isolation mastery. The Rockets have had their growing pains together, but they’re still 34-20 and now embracing a super-small-ball strategy they hope will allow them to compete for an NBA championship this season.