Should the Houston Rockets Trade Harden or Westbrook?

The short answer is not yet, because we haven’t seen their full potential.

I think it was inevitable that we’d part ways with Mike D’Antoni; which is why I was disappointed we let him go before the 2019-2020 season.

My hope was that we’d start the 2019-2020 season with a new coach to see what he or she could do with the Harden / Westbrook duo. If either of them underperformed under a new coach, then we could consider moving on from them.

Instead we continued the season with the status quo offense of D’Antoni which is to telegraph our entire game plan and then stubbornly refuse to make any in game adjustments.

D’Antoni in my view could have won a championship by now if he wasn’t competing with his own agenda of living and dying by the three.

Any Houston fan will remember the epic game 7 collapse against the Golden State Warriors where all we needed were a couple of solid buckets, but we doubled down on three point shooting and missed 27 straight three point shots.

That game like many under D’Antoni’s tenure were defined by no adjustments that cost us the game.

While I could further chronicle his failure to adjust even from The Bubble playoffs, the focus here is on whether we should trade Harden, Westbrook or both.

I think we’re where we should’ve been at the beginning of this past season. This duo needs a coach who can unlock their full arsenal of weapons versus forcing them to fit a system so rigid that it will break before it bends.

There are several coaches who have been let go and are in dire need of an opportunity. Ty Lue immediately comes to mind, but there are so many vacancies right now that I am unsure if we could land him, but that’s who I wanted last year and would be happy with moving forward.

However, my favorite pick for Houston’s next coach is Jerry Stackhouse. He won a G-League championship during the 2016-2017 season, was a #3 draft pick, played alongside Jordan and was an assistant coach of the Toronto Raptors, helping them reach the Eastern Conference finals.

These highlights alone will earn him the respect of players and he will be able to understand what it means to be a star in this league and how to handle the pressure that comes with it.

Do you know who else was a G-League championship coach? Nick Nurse and Quin Snyder who are both excellent coaches with relatively little NBA coaching experience.

Yet, both coaches have performed extremely well and have taken their teams beyond expectation. Nick Nurse, won a championship by simply adding Kwahi Leonard, something Doc Rivers couldn’t do, because his team wasn’t as well coached as Nick’s.

This is why I don’t want to see Doc Rivers or another tenured coach with a limited history of winning. Granted Doc is a championship coach, but he had a fully loaded roster driven by the relentless motor of Kevin Garnett and even with that roster, Doc wasn’t able to repeat the following year.

Since then, he hasn’t been able to win despite having very talented players pass through his organization.

James Harden and Russel Westbrook deserve a coach who will play to their strengths, not just their talents. Yes Harden can shoot the lights out from three, but what does his midrange game look like?

When we are down one point, there is no reason we should jack up a three late the fourth quarter. If a solid midrange jumper is available, common sense says to take it.

The Rockets as constructed aren’t a championship roster. We were built to beat the Warriors, but the Lakers changed the blueprint needed to win. So now we’re left holding the bag from an era that has come and pass.

Yes the Warriors will be back at full strength next year, but they’re older, rustier and much smaller than the supremely athletic Lakers; who for the foreseeable future will be the team to beat.

Dallas is silently putting together a solid team and rumor has it they’re trying to land Oladipo who is a beast and would make them a tough out if Doncic elevates his game even more and Porzingas finds some consistency.

We need another year of Harden & Westbrook, but their full arsenal versions, not the limited capacity all-stars that D’Antoni’s system forced them to be.

So don’t trade them, unless we can get Giannis for either of them then I’d make the trade in a heartbeat and build around Giannis.