Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey seemed to make no secret on The Dan Patrick Show last month that the team would utilize load management for James Harden and Russell Westbrook throughout the 2019-20 season, saying the goal was "to have our guys peak in April."
Sources did tell NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh, however, that "no decision has been made to rest" Harden or Westbrook for entire games.
To date, Harden has played no fewer than 73 games in a regular season—excluding the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign. The same is mostly true of Westbrook, who has played at least 80 games in seven of his 11 seasons. He was mostly limited in 2013-14 with a right knee injury and appeared in just 46 games.
If Houston's plan is to preserve Harden and Westbrook, it makes sense for a franchise desperate for a championship. On Thursday, Morey said on the Selfmade podcast (h/t Rockets Wire) that "we feel very good about" the team's chances to win the title next season.
"We're excited," Morey added. "We have two recent MVPs. That's happened only four times in NBA history, where two MVPs are on the same team in a three-year span. Every time, that team has gone on to win the title. We'll see if it works out for us."
The Rockets acquired Westbrook last month in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Harden and Westbrook played together in OKC from 2009-12. The two, along with Kevin Durant, made the 2012 NBA Finals, where they lost to the Miami Heat in five games.
If the pair want to take the Rockets to Finals this season, they'll have to go through the likes of the Los Angeles Clippers and Kawhi Leonard, who mastered the art of load management en route to a championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2018-19.