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Houston Rockets star James Harden could accompany teammate Russell Westbrook when Westbrook travels to the NBA’s campus at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, according to Stadium’s Shams Charania.
Charania reported that “everyone around the Rockets is optimistic that they will be able to get Westbrook and Harden into Orlando sooner than later.”
A source tells our NBA Insider @ShamsCharania that Rockets star James Harden is feeling fine, working out and may travel with Russell Westbrook to Orlando when Westbrook clears from coronavirus. https://t.co/O8CsLBxGJK
Westbrook announced Monday that he had tested positive for COVID-19:
Russell Westbrook @russwest44
The Rockets left for Orlando on July 9 sans their two best players.
Houston Rockets @HoustonRockets
🚀 The Mission Continues https://t.co/l5zVc8OE2w
Harden and Westbrook’s importance to Houston largely goes without saying.
The former is enjoying another monster season on offense. He’s averaging a league-high 34.4 points and 7.4 assists while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 35.2 percent three-point territory. The latter continues to struggle as a shooter (25.4 percent on three-pointers) but has brought the all-around game he displayed with the Oklahoma City Thunder (27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists).
Prior to the NBA suspending the regular season, the Rockets looked like clear underdogs in the NBA title race. They’re sixth in the Western Conference at 40-24. The Thunder have the same record but own the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Trading Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks in February was partially an acknowledgement that something needed to change in order to raise the team’s ceiling.
In Houston’s most recent game, head coach Mike D’Antoni used a starting lineup of Harden, Westbrook, Robert Covington, P.J. Tucker and Danuel House. Covington is the tallest player of that group and only stands at 6’7″.
If D’Antoni and Daryl Morey’s super-small strategy doesn’t work, there won’t be many tactical gambits left.
Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck also noted the team is “leaning on one of the oldest rotations in the league” and spoke to an NBA advance scout who said the 2020 playoffs could be the last run for the roster as currently constructed.
Were one or both of Harden and Westbrook to be unavailable when the Rockets resume play on July 31 against the Dallas Mavericks, it would be nothing short of a disaster.
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