James Harden, Russell Westbrook Expected to Join Rockets in Orlando by Midweek

James Harden, Russell Westbrook Expected to Join Rockets in Orlando by Midweek

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 02:  James Harden #13 and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets in action against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 02, 2020 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. New York Knicks defeated the Houston Rockets 125-123. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are expected to welcome James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Luc Mbah a Moute to Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, for the team’s training camp in the run-up to the league’s official restart on July 30. 

“Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni says he expects James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Luc Mbah a Moute to join the team by midweeksays they’re all working out ‘at their home bases’ and doesn’t think them missing the beginning of Houston’s training camp will be a big deal,” ESPN’s Rachel Nichols reported.

Houston did not provide an explanation for the late arrivals, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

These are things people are dealing with,” D’Antoni told reporters.

Houston traveled to Florida on Thursday, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. The Rockets begin a stretch of three scrimmages on July 24 against the Toronto Raptors before opening an eight-game slate to close the regular season, starting with a July 31 meeting with the Dallas Mavericks.

Adding Harden and Westbrook back into the mix will certainly be a welcome sight for the Rockets. Harden leads the league in scoring with 34.4 points per game. Westbrook is filling the stat sheet with 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists per contest.

The duo has led Houston to a 40-24 record, good enough for a fifth-place tie in the Western Conference. They can finish as high as second and as low as seventh by the regular season’s end. A playoff spot has already been clinched.

Bringing in Mbah a Moute, who played for D’Antoni’s Rockets in 2017-18, will add further depth and size on the bench. He is replacing Thabo Sefolosha, who opted out of the restart.

The Rockets are one of the more intriguing teams to watch in Disney World, which is hosting the NBA’s restart following a four-and-a-half-month suspension because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Houston was running a tight eight-man rotation prior to the hiatus, with Westbrook and Harden doing much of the heavy lifting and 6’6″ PJ Tucker asked to man the low post every night for 30 to 35 minutes.

It’s possible this roster setup is unsustainable and could have worn the team down come playoff time. However, a longer break in addition to the lack of travel in Disney World, where all 22 teams involved in the restart are staying and playing, could be a huge boost for the team as it looks to finally break through to the NBA Finals.

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