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[Shams] Westbrook trying to pull Rockets together, Rockets looking for wing help

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Deuce, Jan 24, 2020.

  1. Deuce

    Deuce Context & Nuance

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    After teaming up James Harden with Russell Westbrook, the Houston Rockets have shown flashes where the team appears to have the firepower to compete deep in the Western Conference postseason. There also have been moments of disjointed play and effort, such as a recent stretch of four losses in five games. This recent run has led to a more vocal presence by one of its two stars.

    Everyone wondered how the pairing of Harden and Westbrook — two close friends, former Most Valuable Player award winners and NBA leaders in usage rate — would work when Rockets general manager Daryl Morey swung the Chris Paul-for-Westbrook trade in July. Westbrook joined Harden’s team in Houston, with Harden serving as the main usage star, but recently it has been Westbrook who has taken the initiative within the locker room. At practices and with pre- and postgame setting and everything in between, Westbrook has delivered a succinct message to the Rockets, league sources tell The Athletic:

    We need to play together and be committed to winning — get out of our individual feelings and have no agendas.

    He has said this unabashed to all teammates in the hope of building the proper habits as the season wears on.

    Rockets players, coaches and team officials are said to believe that Westbrook’s recent efforts are a strong sign of motivation and leadership. Westbrook wants badly to win, wearing his passion on his sleeve as he always does, and there have been several passionate messages from him in team settings, according to sources. As The Athletic Houston’s Kelly Iko reported, a recent example came on Jan. 15 when Westbrook led a team meeting after a 117-107 home loss to Portland.

    Under coach Mike D’Antoni, Houston has an open forum for all, in any setting. The recent losing stretch has led to more dialogue, and often times it has been Westbrook leading the charge, with no signs that Harden is irked by any of it. On the contrary, there’s a renewed closeness between the two. That’s in contrast to last season when Harden and Chris Paul were at odds during some points over how the Rockets played on offense.

    “Russell’s a good leader, and we’ve needed the motivation,” one source with knowledge of Westbrook’s message said.

    “(Westbrook) has shown his frustration, but the room has needed the message,” another person said.

    Ultimately, the Rockets will need Harden to find his shot again, need the team to continue to regain full health and heed Westbrook’s message delivered in recent weeks. Harden has made just 33 of his 111 shot attempts over the past five games, including 11 of 57 from 3-point range.

    Westbrook, meanwhile, has been sensational over the past six games: Five 30-point performances, two triple-doubles and shooting 53.8 percent from the field. Eric Gordon is slowly, but surely, finding his touch as the much-needed third option — scoring 25 points and hitting six 3-pointers in Wednesday’s win over Denver.

    Rockets coaches have been stressing an emphasis on defense in their messages to players lately, according to sources. And team officials are confident that Harden, Westbrook and Gordon will eventually find their groove at the same time.

    PJ Tucker, an essential forward for these Rockets, has dealt with a stinger in his right shoulder since Jan. 11. He has the 2020-21 season remaining on a four-year contract he signed with Houston. And after discussing an extension up until the start of the season, the sides have decided to table discussions until the offseason, according to sources.

    In the meantime, Morey and his front office will continue to scour the league for potential upgrades. The Rockets have prioritized a potential wing player acquisition before the Feb. 6 trade deadline, and are continuing to make future draft picks available for an upgrade, sources say.

    For now, they will leave a roster spot open as the team is as healthy as it’s been all season.
     
  2. DaBeard

    DaBeard Member

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  3. jacoby

    jacoby Member

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    I lost faith that this team will win a championship, so I would really rather hold on to whatever picks we have remaining for the post-Harden era.
     
  4. Ziggy

    Ziggy Tastemaker
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    Yee, get rid of the rest of those picks for 15 games of Iggy.
     
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  5. YOLO

    YOLO Member

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    Tilman: "someone drop a wing player so I can sign him for min"

    [​IMG]
     
  6. DreamShook

    DreamShook Member

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    Harden tries so hard to be a vocal type leader but he fails to do so every season. It happened with Dwight and CP3 now Russ. I bet Russ was tired of sitting in the shadows watching Harden flounder as the vocal leader. Harden is best just showing the team he is always grinding and available.

    It is only very recently Russ has shown this type of vocal leadership he has shown in the past with OKC.
     
    A00man, kjayp, Hakeemtheking and 8 others like this.
  7. Deuce

    Deuce Context & Nuance

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    As an introvert, Harden just isn't a vocal leader. He leads more by example and in encouraging guys and teaching.

    But sometimes teams need that *vocal guy* and Russ is filling that void.
     
  8. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    Russell is a full time leader, not a sometimey ass leader.

    Russell Westbrook is a true professional, true leader and I hope he retires a Rocket.
     
  9. Reeko

    Reeko Member

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    any wing player they bring in better be a legitimate difference maker...don’t bring in some decent role player and then act like issues are solved and it’s all good
     
  10. ROXTXIA

    ROXTXIA Contributing Member

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    You ain't bull****tin'.

    I mean, Danuel House just ain't quite cuttin' it. He had moments, but he went to the mall and bought a case of the shanks.

    I forgot just how quickly the trade deadline is approaching.
     
    #10 ROXTXIA, Jan 24, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2020
    lw17, Rocks92 and Reeko like this.
  11. D-rock

    D-rock Member

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    Russ is well liked and uses positive speech to motivate team members. Little different from CP3 who has a tendency to berate which eventually wears out teammates.
     
  12. MorningZippo

    MorningZippo Member

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    Westbrook is going to be huge for us, and he doesn’t just talk like CP3 did. Players listen to guys that hustle every single play, even more so when they are as talented as anybody on the floor.
     
  13. Deuce

    Deuce Context & Nuance

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    Beggars can't be choosers at this point considering the lack of assets, though.
     
  14. BackNthDay

    BackNthDay Member

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    We could use Jeff Green at 6'9" to go small with. The tuck wagon lineup is trash, however, I need the stats guys to tell us more!
     
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  15. Air Yordan

    Air Yordan Member

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    There's a reason Russ beat Harden for MVP
     
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  16. jordnnnn

    jordnnnn Member

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    Wait... Are you insinuating Westbrook won his undeserved(by undeserved I mean Harden clearly should have won, not that he didn’t belong in the conversation) MVP over Harden because of supposed leadership abilities?
     
    Richie_Rich, BMoney and JayGoogle like this.
  17. Reeko

    Reeko Member

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    true, but we are basically in the position where we must hit a home run or the season is probably a wrap
     
  18. Reeko

    Reeko Member

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    he’s trolling, don’t take his BS seriously
     
  19. JW86

    JW86 Member

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    Westbrook is my favourite guy right now, glad I got to appreciate him right now as I was so wrong about him. He does work hard, it's not just for show and him getting rebounds is like Beverley's: he just wants it more and it gets his fast breaks going. Did not know he had this type of leadership role in him, so even more impressed with that. I'm betting House losing his starting position and Tucker being frustrated about the lack lack of shots are some of individual grievances that let's hope they can put behind them. Russ is not just talk, he's backing it up with his play, something CP3 just didn't or couldn't do. Unfortunately any positivity I had is almost for naught with the news that we're after a wing player, but ow well.
     
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  20. Air Yordan

    Air Yordan Member

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    He's already become many fans' favorite Rocket. His leadership and passion ignite the team.
     
    D-rock and xtruroyaltyx like this.
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