Over the weekend, Houston Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook supposedly demanded trades, and new reports are saying it’s because the team’s owner is a supporter of President Donald Trump.
Harden, Westbrook, and many of their teammates are reportedly not happy with Houston owner Tilman Fertitta. NBA insider Ric Bucher made the claims while on “The Odd Couple” podcast on Monday. Bucher says Fertitta’s support of Trump and the Republican party has created inner turmoil within the organization. Many players and staff members disagree with their owner’s Trump campaign contributions.
At first, Bucher thought the players disagreed with the departure of general manager Daryl Morey and head coach Mike D’Antoni. Both Morey and D’Antoni left the team this offseason.
“I immediately thought this was Daryl Morey leaving, and Mike D’Antoni leaving,” Bucher said. “And Russell Westbrook and James Harden going, ‘No offense to Stephen Silas or Rafael Stone, but we don’t want a starter kit. We’re playing for a championship.’ No matter how much you regard Stephen Silas or Stone, these guys are brand new at the job, and what’s our expectation that they’re going to be able to make the moves necessary for us to leapfrog the Lakers.”
Yet, Bucher says the players’ issues are the result of more than just the team management changes.
Rockets Players Leading Revolt Against Team
Bucher says the loss of the longtime GM and head coach are contributing factors in the team discourse. However, he thinks the team’s dysfunction stems from Fertitta’s political affiliations. Fertitta bought the Rockets for $2.2 billion in 2017. He’s a vocal supporter of Trump, and the two are well-known friends.
“But what I heard is,” Bucher continued, “and we know how much politics and political position had to do with the boycott and protests during the Bubble. I’m hearing that Tilman Fertitta’s strong Republican support and donations is one of the things that is contributing to this dissatisfaction. There is a revolt here because they look at Fertitta as a guy who supports the current President.”
In fact, Westbrook has reportedly already asked to be traded away from Houston. In addition, Harden reportedly wants out as well and could be on the move to the Brooklyn Nets. The move would reunite Harden with D’Antoni who just took an assistant coach position with the Nets.
Additionally, the Rockets have traded Robert Covington to the Portland Trail Blazers. The team may be in rebuilding mode, which will be exacerbated with the departure of stars Harden and Westbrook.