The Houston Rockets have been one of the better teams in the NBA in recent years. They have not really been at the forefront of the NBA Finals conversation, but they have always been a part of it. A couple of times, they have appeared to be a threat, but they could never follow through on that potential.
No one would have faulted you for betting on them, though. However, that could change this season with what has gone on in Houston and still could.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni is out, and former Dallas Mavericks assistant, Stephen Silas, is in. But the change did not stop there. General manager Daryl Morey departed after D’Antoni. So, the architects of all the contenders the Rockets fielded in recent years are gone leaving the team without much direction.
According to the rumor mill, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are not too happy about that. Neither has officially requested a trade, but if recent reports are indeed accurate, Westbrook wants out.
Because of all the change and rumors, the Rockets odds of winning the NBA Finals are not too promising odds via DraftKings):
- Houston Rockets to win 2020-21 NBA Championship +3000
- Houston Rockets to win Western Conference 2021 +1600
With the changes in leadership and the Westbrook/Harden rumors, it would appear that the Rockets are a team you should definitely fade. There is way too much uncertainty surrounding the team. Since they do not have a first-round pick this year, it is hard to say how they can improve.
There is free agency, of course, but with Harden’s and Westbrook’s massive contracts on the books, they will have a hard time picking up someone that can contribute. So, their title hopes next season will likely reside in how quickly Stephen Silas can get everyone on the same page.
That is assuming that the team still has Harden and Westbrook in the starting lineup this season. With how teams seem to honor trade requests in recent years, if either does make a request, there is a good chance the team will try to move them.
But do not count on either going anywhere.
Houston has been built to showcase Harden, and that is not going to change. However, it would not be shocking to see them move Westbrook, but they will have a hard time doing so. A contender will probably have a max player or two already and will not be able to afford him. Non-contenders are going to be more interested in saving money and developing their young talent.
If Morey was still in Houston, there is a good chance Westbrook would get moved. He managed to move Chris Paul and his massive contract. But there is no telling what sort of magic new general manager Rafael Stone could work.
So—how should you bet?
If you think Westbrook or Harden will leave, then definitely pass on this one. But if you think they are going to stay, there is a good chance the Rockets could be better next year. Good enough to win the conference or NBA Finals?
Maybe—but don’t bet anything on either of these you expect to see again. With Houston’s odds, there is value, but the competition is going to be stiff.