After trying, and failing, to beat the Warriors at any point during their dominant 5-year stretch run, the Houston Rockets came back to the drawing board feeling defeated and helpless. Essentially, they knew that the team was not going anywhere as it was.
Fortunately, it was during this realization that the OKC Thunder fell apart — and made Russ available as a result.
A few phone calls and some paperwork and boom, Russell Westbrook was a Rocket. But even for as talented as he and Harden were (and still are), there are questions about how things are going to work with their new and improved team.
James Harden himself, in a very calm manner, expressed no grievance over the situation when asked in a recent interview with GQ.
“It’s like, yo, we’ll figure it out,” Harden said. “Everything isn’t necessarily going to be smooth at first, there are going to be ups and downs, and that’s part of an 82-game season. Hopefully, by the end of the season, we’ve caught a rhythm and everybody is on the same page going into the playoffs. That’s all you can ask for.
He added: “There’s a different kind of relationship and communication that we have, a different type of excitement that we have for each other. We don’t really care or pay attention to what other people say or think.”
James knows more than a thing or two about the ups and downs of a season. It was just last year when the Rockets (who nearly beat the Warriors in the postseason before) started off the year near the bottom of the standings, only to finish in the Top 3 when the playoffs began.
It’s hard to say what we should expect for the 2019-20 campaign. James and the Brodie have been teammates before, and they seem committed to making things work. But nothing is as easy as it seems — and Houston has experience with finding that out the hard way.