Houston Rockets superstar James Harden reportedly threatened to demand a trade last season if Houston didn’t acquire Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook, who was dealt to the Washington Wizards for John Wall this offseason, played with Harden on the Oklahoma City Thunder early in their careers.
However, Westbrook was the one who wanted out this offseason so he could have a bigger role in an offense.
According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Rockets were essentially forced by Harden to make the deal for Westbrook.
“Harden insisted the Rockets get the deal done, saying he’d demand a trade if they didn’t find a way to bring his childhood friend and former OKC teammate to Houston, sources said,” MacMahon wrote. “The Rockets paid a price that was considered steep at the time — [Chris] Paul, 2024 and 2026 first-round picks, and swap rights in 2021 and 2025.”
MacMahon also notes that Westbrook became frustrated during the season because he wasn’t able to play his game alongside Harden.
“Sources said Westbrook frequently expressed his displeasure during the season with not being able to ‘play my game,’ as he put it,” MacMahon wrote. “There were questions about the Harden-Westbrook fit when they were pushing to play together again, including [Mike] D’Antoni privately expressing his concerns, sources said.”
The Rockets were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs last season. Now, Harden will have to find a way to mesh with Wall if the Rockets want to win a title.