Houston Rockets ‘ready to get uncomfortable’ with James Harden, Russell Westbrook, source says

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The Houston Rockets feel no pressure to trade James Harden or Russell Westbrook, however strong the superstars desire to make a fresh start with different franchises and are “ready to get uncomfortable” as the practice opens and the season begins, sources told ESPN.The Rockets’ front office, led by recently promoted general manager Rafael Stone, remains adamant that no player will be traded unless a team hits their asking price.

The Rockets have no problem getting into training camp and the start of the season with Harden and Westbrook on the roster even if the superstars aren’t happy with the situation.

A source has confirmed the Rockets and Washington Wizards have discussed a Westbrook-for-John Wall deal, as The Athletic first reported, but Houston wants assets in addition to Wall, a former point guard. All-Star game that comes out of a broken Achilles. tendon.

The Rockets consider the weather to be on their side as the two superstars are under contract for at least two more seasons. Harden and Westbrook both have $ 133 million over three years – including player options from last season – remaining on their contracts.

The Rockets demand a particularly stiff comeback for Harden, a perennial MVP contender who has led the NBA to score the past three seasons: a proven young star as a centerpiece with a huge package of picks, sources say. Houston doesn’t feel obligated to deliver Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, his favorite destination, sources said.

The Rockets also understand that Westbrook, to whom Houston gave up Chris Paul, two first-round picks and two choice trades to secure Harden’s behest last summer, wouldn’t command the same kind of trade return as Harden. However, Houston is unwilling to deal with Westbrook without receiving assets like young talent or first-round picks.

Houston is reluctant to sell low on Westbrook, a third-team All-NBA selection last season who struggled during the NBA’s reboot in the bubble, as he got back in shape after recovering from coronavirus and strained his right quadriceps, causing him to miss several games and play injured during the playoffs.

The Rockets believe the 32-year-old Westbrook – who averaged 31.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.8 assists while shooting 52.6 percent from the ground more than two and a half months before the pandemic does not interrupt the season – can restore its value with a good start. in season, according to sources. They have no fear that misfortune could impact the efforts of Westbrook, who has a reputation as one of the league’s most relentless contenders.

In the meantime, the Rockets have already started stockpiling assets that can help the franchise in the future following the eventual departure of the two superstars.

The Rockets agreed Monday night to trade forward Robert Covington to the Portland Trail Blazers for the No.16 pick in Wednesday’s draft, a future first-round pick and forward Trevor Ariza, a veteran who can contribute if Houston is competitive this season or be a valuable business chip as an expiring contract.

Sources said the Rockets also hope to buy a pick – either late in the first round or early in the second round – in Wednesday’s draft.

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