NBANews

James Harden, Russell Westbrook Had Some Issues

James Harden, Russell Westbrook Had Some Issues

The Houston Rockets are the most talked-about team in the NBA right now. Less than 24 hours after reports surfaced that Russell Westbrook wanted off the squad, additional details are pouring in regarding why that is in fact the case.

According to Kelly Iko, Sam Amick, and Shams Charania of The Athletic, one of the issues that Westbrook ultimately had in Houston was the poor culture there. That manifested itself in several clashes with James Harden, who is a close friend of his.

“Westbrook, sources say, has made it known for quite some time now that he would like to see significant changes to the Rockets’ culture,” the report noted.

“Specifically, his desire for more team-wide accountability, discipline and structure have been the focus of talks with team officials. Throughout the season, Westbrook was the consistent presence who kept Harden accountable and the two close friends had several verbal exchanges that sources described as ‘tense, but needed.’”

Poor culture seems to be a running theme found at the root of many of Houston’s issues. And because the organization seemingly shirked any and all responsibility to address the problem, Westbrook demanded out.

“Westbrook has informed team officials that he has been uneasy about the team’s accountability and culture, and wants to join a team where he can have a role similar to his prior, floor-general role in Oklahoma City,” the report continued.

Thus far, Westbrook has been connected to several potential deals. The Los Angeles Clippers are said to be interested in his services, as are the New York Knicks.

“It is interesting the last 24 hours,” Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported this week.

“I did have multiple sources that I trust tell me that teams believe Russell Westbrook could be had—that Westbrook could be had—and I’ve heard the Clippers have interest, I’ve heard the Knicks have interest in Westbrook, and whether anything materializes there, who knows? Who knows? But the fact is that there is a belief that a guy like Westbrook could become available.”

Something similar is at play with the Knicks. According to Ian Begley of SNY, New York has expressed interest in bringing Westbrook aboard.

“Something else to keep an eye on: some agents who represent top point guard free agents believe the Knicks would poke around on a potential Russell Westbrook trade if Houston makes him available,” he wrote.

“It’s worth noting that Westbrook, per sources, saw New York as a welcome landing spot last summer when Oklahoma City was talking to teams about potential trades. Westbrook’s work ethic and drive would have an impact on New York’s young players.

“But the deal — just like a potential Paul trade — would obviously have to make sense for New York. If they are going to take on Westbrook’s contract (three years remaining, third year is a player option, $132 million in total), you’d think that the Knicks would look for an additional asset from Houston.”

Although it is unclear where specifically Westbrook will end up next season, it is becoming increasingly obvious that it won’t be in Houston.

Related: Clippers, Thunder Inching Towards Chris Paul Trade?

Anthony Amador

A recent graduate from the University of Texas, Anthony Amador has been credentialed to cover the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and high school games all over the Lone Star State. Currently, his primary beats are the NBA, MLB, NFL and UFC.

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