The Houston Rockets organization has undergone a tumultuous few months since the team's second-round playoff exit in the bubble to the eventual-champion Los Angeles Lakers. Former GM Daryl Morey is now the president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, ex-head coach Mike D'Antoni is on the bench with the Brooklyn Nets, and both James Harden and Russell Westbrook asked to be traded.

So far, only Westbrook has gotten his wish, as the Rockets and Washington Wizards finalized the blockbuster trade on Wednesday sending Westbrook to D.C. for John Wall and a protected 2023 first-round pick.

The Athletic's Fred Katz and Kelly Iko dove into the issues in Houston and what truly led to the Westbrook-Wall swap.

According to Katz and Iko, a Westbrook trade seemed increasingly likely once the 2017 MVP postponed his arrival at Rockets training camp while he waited to see how trade discussions played out. However, the Rockets brass—including owner Tilman Fertitta and recently hired GM Rafael Stone and head coach Stephen Silas—initially believed they could produce a contender with Harden and Westbrook.

However, things apparently went south in the bubble, in which Westbrook was hampered by a COVID-19 diagnosis and a quad injury.

Sources close to Westbrook believe the nine-time All-Star was being made out to be a scapegoat of sorts for Houston’s playoff meltdown … eerily similar to what happened with Paul and Harden following the Rockets’ Game 6 collapse against the Warriors in 2019.

Westbrook missed Houston's first four playoff games, then averaged 17.5 points, seven rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game on brutal .421/.242/.531 shooting splits in eight contests, including a five-game series loss in the second round.

Iko and Katz note that despite the strong personal relationship between Harden and Westbrook—who were teammates for three years with the Oklahoma City Thunder—both veterans are in latter stages of their NBA journeys, which made a partnership untenable.

In a realistic basketball situation with a championship as the long-term goal, sources said, Harden and Westbrook simply couldn’t co-exist on the floor. This isn’t a knock on their personal relationship … Harden and Westbrook have a deep-rooted friendship … but the NBA is a business. Individual legacies are at stake and winning a championship seems more unlikely by the year. At 31 and 32, respectively, Harden and Westbrook aren’t exactly NBA spring chickens anymore, either.

Nine years ago … this awkward pairing might not have mattered. Westbrook and Durant shared the spotlight with Harden excelling as the spark plug off the bench. Since then, dynamics have changed. Both Harden and Westbrook have won MVPs, a host of personal accolades, and have established brands for themselves. This, combined with the never-ending clock that is Father Time, made a split almost inevitable.”

At the moment, Harden is still a member of the Houston Rockets, and is unlikely to be traded before the team sees him play alongside Wall and free agent signee Christian Wood.