The reasons Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook got sick of playing with James Harden
The Houston Rockets previously saw two premier point guards in Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook come and go from the team. Both players’ tumultuous stints in Houston suggest that the team’s main star in James Harden might potentially be the one causing problems for the team all this time, via ESPN‘s Tim MacMahon.
Back in the 2017-2018 season, the Rockets enjoyed their best campaign in the Harden era where they held a valiant stand against the dominant Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. However, a hamstring injury ended the series in seven games and immediately erased their aspirations of reaching the championship stage.
In the following season, the tension between Harden and Paul escalated with the former opting to not participate whenever the ball was in the latter’s hands. After disagreeing with Paul’s concerns, Harden went on to request Mike D’Antoni to revolve the offensive schemes around his isolation plays once again.
The team’s brass wanted the duo to be back but the prospect of having Westbrook on board became too hard for them to pass up on. Harden heavily vouched for his former teammate to which the Rockets eventually gave in and basically traded away their future. Their package included Chris Paul, 2024 and 2026 first-round picks, and swap rights in 2021 and 2025 sent to the way of the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for the 2017 NBA MVP.
After getting a new backcourt partner for Harden, the Rockets’ new partnership with Westbrook didn’t go as they hoped it to be. The explosive guard also had his fair share of frustrations with Harden reportedly getting in the way of him being able to play his type of game on the court.
The lax culture in Houston also didn’t bode well with Westbrook after he oversaw a disciplined unit back in his days with the Thunder. The nine-time All-Star never tolerated tardiness and insisted on pushing through with film sessions even if Harden was the one late.
“Nothing ever starts on time,” a former Rockets staffer said via ESPN. “The plane is always late. The bus is never on time. … It’s just an organized AAU team.”
Hopefully, the Rockets will get to see a change in culture under the new regime of head coach Stephen Silas. After all the turmoil in recent years, perhaps the team will have to part ways with some familiar faces including James Harden in order to save the ship from sinking and make it back on the right track moving forward.