NBA Coach Says Rockets' Russell Westbrook 'Isn't a Good Complement for Anyone'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2020

Houston Rockets' Russell Westbrook (0) looks up during the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Lakers won 110-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Houston Rockets thought they fixed their biggest issue last offseason when they traded Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook.

It appears they just created an even bigger one.

On the heels of the Rockets' latest playoff disappointment, an Eastern Conference coach told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that Westbrook isn't a great fit in Houston. 

"Westbrook isn't a good complement for anyone, in my opinion," the coach said. "He has to be the main guy. He can't shoot. He needs the ball. He's not an off-ball player. Hard to play with two max guys who need the ball. Maybe it's possible, but it seems like two good players instead of Westbrook would be better the way they play."

Westbrook had a largely miserable time in the playoffs, averaging just 17.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 24.2 percent from three.

While there was some rust level against Oklahoma City after a quad injury kept him out nearly three weeks, it should have long worn off by the Rockets' second-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers. Westbrook was just plain bad, and Paul's brilliance against Houston a round earlier only further exacerbated the criticism of the superstar swap.

There were times when the Westbrook-James Harden partnership appeared to be working. Westbrook was playing some of the best basketball of his career before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season, eschewing most of his bad habits in favor of relentless attacks to the rim. He averaged 31.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.8 assists while shooting 52.7 percent from the floor over the final 23 pre-pandemic games.

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When the Rockets returned to the floor, Westbrook regressed into his worst tendencies and never seemed to recover.

The Rockets owe Westbrook $133 million over the next three seasons, making him perhaps the most untradeable player in the sport. They are going to have to find a way to make this work or face having to deal with mediocrity until his deal expires or becomes an attractive expiring contract for trade purposes.

With Mike D'Antoni choosing to depart after four seasons, Houston's next coach may have his hands full.