With Westbrook Wanting Out, Houston Rockets 2021 Championship Odds Fall to +2800

Russell Westbrook talking to someone on court

Russell Westbrook is reportedly wanting out of Houston after one season. Photo from @BleacherReport (Twitter).

  • Russell Westbrook reportedly wants out of Houston after one season
  • Rumors drop Rockets’ NBA title odds to +2800 and out of the top 10
  • Read on below to see if there is any value in taking the Rockets at these lengthy odds

That cracking sound you’re hearing are the foundations of the Houston Rockets’ status as contender crumbling.

After getting dismantled by the soon-to-be NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers in the second round, there’s been nothing but flux. And the latest news of all-star guard Russell Westbrook reportedly wanting out of H-Town has sent the Rockets’ NBA Championship odds tumbling.

2021 NBA Championship Odds

Team Odds
Los Angeles Lakers +350
Los Angeles Clippers +550
Milwaukee Bucks +600
Brooklyn Nets +800
Golden State Warriors +800
Houston Rockets +2800

Odds taken from DraftKings taken November 10

They may not have been title favorites, but they’re now outside the top-10 in championship odds, in the range of the 76ers (+3000) and Jazz (+4000). But will the star subtraction lead to James Harden again establishing his dominance as the go-to guy and boost Houston again?

Shakeups Since Elimination

The Rockets were supposed to be the team no one wanted to face in the playoffs. Their micro-ball style and defensive switchability was a matchup nightmare. They were rated the top defensive team in the playoff bubble en route to dispatching the OKC Thunder in seven games in Round 1.

But the Lakers basically used their own formula against them in Round 2. They downsized their lineup and did it better than Houston. The result was a team that looked like smoke and mirrors getting ushered out in five games.

Since then, head coach Mike D’Antoni decided to not return. GM Daryl Morey left the team soon afterwards, resurfacing only days later as the president of basketball operations with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Coaches and GM’s come and go all the time, but perhaps no two shaped a team to their personnel and philosophy more than D’Antoni and Morey did in Houston. Analytics reigned supreme, with the Rockets abandoning the mid-range jumper and creating a system based on threes, layups and free throws.

D’Antoni’s offense adjusted to make Harden an isolation beast. It was even further tweaked to allow a non-shooter like Westbrook more room to operate by eliminating a big man.

Even with reported buy-in from Westbrook and Harden on new coach Stephen Silas and the promotion of Rafael Sloane to GM, perhaps it was only a matter of time before the franchise needed a reboot.

Can Houston Still Contend?

There’s a price to constantly going all-in, as Morey did. He gave up a haul of first-round picks and swaps to the Thunder to get Westbrook, and dealt this year’s first-rounder to pick up Robert Covington. When it didn’t work, the only way to find some flexibility was likely to move the only legit assets they had: Westbrook or Harden.

There are teams that are interested in Westbrook, who looked unstoppable at times in Houston. He averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists in 59 games while shooting 47.2% from the field in 57 games. He will be 32 next season, and is owed $131.5 million over the next three years, including a player option at a whopping $46.7 million in 2022-23.

If Houston can move him, that would leave Harden without a star-studded running mate. But the three-time and reigning scoring champion — who’s been an all-star every year since arriving in Houston — could still make a go of it, depending on how the Rockets re-tool on the fly.

What’s the Best Bet?

It’s worth noting that owner Tilman Fertitta has committed to going over the luxury tax to keep Houston’s title window alive.

But this is situation critical: Harden has himself questioned the franchise’s direction, and has been aloof with the team. This is with the NBA Draft coming in a week and free agency on Nov. 20. There are also rumours floating around that Harden could be moved as well, leaving the Rockets in total rubble.

With roster and management uncertainty, the Rockets are already way behind loaded teams out West in the Lakers, Clippers and Warriors. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving kick things off in Brooklyn with the Heat, Raptors and Celtics still going strong. There are elite teams this NBA season, so I’d steer clear of the current situation in Houston, which could turn to total carnage before the season tips off.

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Eric Rosales

NFL NBA Sports Writer & Editor