The Houston Rockets believe they are poised to with an NBA Championship now that James Harden and Russell Westbrook will be teaming up together. For owner Tilman Fertitta, however, the championship window appears to be open a little wider, and longer, than most others in the league might say.
Speaking with Yahoo Sports to promote his new book, Fertitta said, “I think we put ourselves in the position that if we don’t win (an NBA Championship) in the next three or four years, we probably aren’t going to win one in the next 10 years. This is our window, and we need to seize the opportunity.”
Like many others, I think the Houston Rockets saw their window almost close completely during the 2018 Western Conference Finals before Chris Paul was injured and the team blew a 3-2 series advantage, losing Game Seven at home to the Golden State Warriors. Now, even with Chris Paul traded for Russell Westbrook, the Western Conference doesn’t have the dynastic Warriors to deal with; it is, however, deeper now that the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers are much improved on paper, potentially making the road to the NBA Finals much more difficult.
I would also add that while Fertitta has the right to be optimistic by saying the Houston Rockets have a three or four year window, I don’t believe that the marriage between Harden and Westbrook will last more than two seasons. I say this because I find it hard to imagine that these two players will be able to figure out how to share one basketball for 82 games a season. Neither player has shown a willingness yet to change how they play the game, nor do I think either player knows how to play off the ball. So, without the ball in their hands, their talents are diminished, and with one holding the ball, the other’s court time becomes less valuable.
Personally, I would be shocked if the Houston Rockets win an NBA Championship, even if they give head coach Mike D’Antoni a contract extension beyond this season. I don’t think D’Antoni worries about playing defense, which makes Harden and Westbrook perfect players for him on offense and during the regular season; but when defense is needed in the postseason, this trio is a disaster waiting to happen. If you tell me that D’Antoni will be replaced within a year, then I would say Houston’s chances of winning may go up, just as if you tell me Anthony Davis leaves the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency next summer. Short of that, the Houston Rockets will make a great highlight reel for the next three or four years, but will never pop any champagne corks after winning the NBA Finals.