Expect Houston to open training camp, season, with Westbrook, Harden on roster

The Houston Rockets have been exploring options for trading All-Star guard and former MVP Russell Westbrook, who has reportedly asked out of Houston. There also has been some reported kicking of the tires of a James Harden trade to his preferred destination of Brooklyn, although that has been more player-driven (Harden’s and Kevin Durant‘s camps) than by the teams.

In both cases, there is little traction on a deal.

Which means expect Harden and Westbrook in the Rockets training camp when it opens next week, something Adrian Wojnarowski talked about on SportsCenter recently.

“They have not engaged on James Harden in trade talks. Russell Westbrook, they have. That’s not an easy trade to make. I think for the Rockets, getting back into training camp and starting the season is probably a more likely scenario than Westbrook moving.”

Don’t be surprised to see Harden and Westbrook as Rockets’ teammates when the season opens, as well.

There is limited interest around the league in a Westbrook trade, primarily because of the three-years, $133 million he is still owed (the last year of that is a player option, but one he likely picks up). While Westbrook still puts up strong numbers — last season he was an All-Star averaging 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7 assists per game — he also is a 32-year-old player whose game in part relies on his explosive athleticism, yet he also has had seven knee surgeries. He doesn’t shoot the three well, his efficiency has dropped from its MVP peak (he’s below league average in true shooting percentage), and some teammates have grown frustrated playing next to him.

Harden, a perennial MVP candidate who averaged 34.3 points and 7.5 assists a game last season, would have more interest around the league, but he reportedly has his eyes set on Brooklyn. And even with the Nets, Harden wants to keep his options open. For its part, Houston would like to repair its relationship with Harden and keep him long term but understands that may not be possible. However, if Jrue Holiday netted two rotation players, three first-round picks, and two pick swaps in a trade this offseason, what is Harden worth? Houston will want a ginormous package of young players and picks back in a deal.

That may not come together before the season starts.

Welcome to the NBA Stephen Silas, for your first head-coaching job here is a disgruntled Harden and Westbrook. Enjoy training camp.

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