Kendrick Perkins: Russell Westbrook Left Rockets over Treatment by Coaching Staff

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 7, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 06:  Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook (0) stands next to Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni with heat on his knees before returning to the Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles Lakers game on February 06, 2020, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Russell Westbrook took issue with how he was handled by the staff of the Houston Rockets, according to ESPN's Kendrick Perkins.

Perkins reported Monday on The Jump that Westbrook "felt like he wasn't being treated like the star that he should've been treated like."

Kendrick Perkins @KendrickPerkins

What the Dallas Mavericks are missing is a new Head Coach! Carry the hell on... pic.twitter.com/v9ZWeJW90S

That echoes what The Athletic's Kelly Iko, Sam Amick, and Shams Charania reported last November when they wrote the nine-time All-Star wanted out. They said Westbrook "wants to join a team where he can have a role similar to his prior, floor general role in Oklahoma City."

The friendship between Westbrook and James Harden was supposed to help smooth over any friction that might arise when the two were sharing the floor together. 

Instead, ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported how the Westbrook and Harden dynamic met the same fate as Harden's brief partnership with Chris Paul, with Westbrook bristling at the general culture within the organization. Then there were the issues laid out above.

"Sources said Westbrook frequently expressed his displeasure during the season with not being able to 'play my game,' as he put it," MacMahon wrote. "There were questions about the Harden-Westbrook fit when they were pushing to play together again, including D'Antoni privately expressing his concerns, sources said."

When it comes to the Washington Wizards, Westbrook is still probably the 1B to Bradley Beal's 1A, but they fit much better because Beal doesn't look to facilitate the offense to the extent Harden does.

Beal averaged a career-high 31.3 points in 2020-21, while Westbrook averaged a triple-double (22.2 points, 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds) for the fourth time in five seasons.

Westbrook also seems to get along with head coach Scott Brooks, who coached him for seven seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"Players get a lot of credit because we're on the floor," the 2016-17 MVP told reporters in May. "But behind the scenes, Scotty is one hell of a coach. Not just that, a person, and he does an amazing job making sure we've got all our stuff together."