Russell Westbrook demands a trade from Houston; Future in NBA Uncertain

Senam Dzodzomenyo, Editor-In-Cheif

  Houston Rockets superstar, Russell Westbrook, demanded a trade from the team, per ESPN report. After getting booted out of the Western Conference Semifinals in September 2020, he asked to be traded to a team where he can play  a bigger role. When asked about his initial reaction to the news, long-time Houston Rockets fan and Oakdale Middle School 7th grader, Dela Dzodzomenyo replied, “ Finally. It wasn’t Westbrook’s fault he wanted out of Houston. He needs to be the first option to score on a championship team.”


 It all started in July of 2019, when Westbrook was traded to the Houston Rockets from Oklahoma City Thunder, in exchange for Chris Paul and multiple future draft picks. One thing that was concerning about this trade was the fact that Houston’s superstar, James Harden, was one of the most ball dominant players in the league. So was Westbrook. With two ball dominant, egotistical players, top-notch NBA analysts such as Stephen A. Smith and Adrian Wojnarowski were skeptical of how well the two stars would mesh together. However, upon learning that Harden and Westbrook had been best friends since 2000, NBA fans were willing to give the duo a chance.


The first half of the season went well, but Westbrook was struggling. Thankfully Harden was putting up historical statlines, averaging 38.8 points per game, 7.2 assists per game, and 7.1 rebounds per game. After the All-Star break in February, Harden decided to change his playing style in order to help Westbrook thrive in Houston’s fast-paced system. The Rockets season drastically improved. They were looking like contenders in the Western Conference.  However, after the Coronavirus suspended basketball for 4 months, Westbrook contracted the virus, and the Rockets season changed. 


In the “Bubble” at  Orlando, the Rockets looked out of tune and sluggish. They had already secured a playoff spot so they had room for error without dramatically affecting their playoff standings.


   When the playoffs arrived, Westbrook suddenly got hit with a quad injury that had the potential to sideline him for 2 weeks. Luckily, Harden was on a hot streak so he was dependable for the Rockets. The first-round playoff matchup was against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were predicted by NBA analysts to have only a 0.2% chance of making the playoffs. Naturally, they were not taken seriously. However, the Thunder stunned the Rockets, taking the series all the way to 7 games, where Rockets center P.J Tucker would seal the deal with a last-second one-legged floater.


  In the next Conference Semifinals, Westbrook had healed from his quad injury, ready to dominate. The Rockets were favored to win the series against the Los Angeles Lakers in 7 games, but after game 2, all- time legend LeBron James took over the series, handily dispatching the Rockets in 5 games.  Westbrook struggled mightily, and Harden could not carry the offensive load by himself.


The Rockets’ collapse is a mystery. Perhaps they lost so badly because of Westbrook’s atrocious shooting from beyond the arc. Perhaps it is because of LeBron James’ demoralizing, chase-down defensive plays on Westbrook. However, it was clear that Westbrook was the glaring problem. According to Harden, the Rockets needed “one last solid piece” to be able to contend for a championship.


Weeks after the Los Angeles Lakers won the 2020 NBA Championship, Westbrook demanded a trade from Houston Rockets. The Rockets are trying to trade him, but his trade value dipped after his playoff performance. The Rockets are in quite the dilemma.


 Manny Greene, a junior at Oakdale High School, expressed, “ He should go to the Hornets. MJ (Michael Jordan) owns the team, and he loves Russ, so I think he should go there.” 


In addition, Dzodzomenyo stated, “I think he should go to the New York Knicks. It’s obvious because then he’ll be the number one guy on the team. The rest of the team sucks.”


Where Westbrook will end up is extremely uncertain, and only time will tell if he can be traded to get his wish, or be miserable and stay in Houston.