Rockets Will Tweak Starting Lineup Because Of Russell Westbrook


Per Jonathan Feigen, beat writer for the Houston Chronicle, Eric Gordon, who has been the Rockets’ sixth man for many of their games over the last three seasons, agreed to sign a four-year, $76 million maximum contract extension and according to Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic, the team wants him in the starting lineup in 2019-20 to add another floor-spacer alongside Russell Westbrook.

“What will help Westbrook is playing alongside multiple floor spacers. D’Antoni has been working with his staff throughout the offseason to tailor his offense to optimize Westbrook’s strengths. Westbrook will be paired with Eric Gordon for a majority of his minutes, especially with the second-unit. A team source told The Athletic that Gordon is also very likely to start this season alongside Harden and Westbrook.

The idea is to have an elite athlete on the floor to rebound the basketball and create offense in transition. With more space, Westbrook will have increased possessions where he can be unpredictable and take proper advantage of his speed and utilize his array of hesitation moves.”

Westbrook, his agent and the Thunder worked together to send the 2017 NBA MVP to a destination of his choice and he wanted to reunite with James Harden, who convinced the Rockets to go after his former teammate in OKC.

Harden and Westbrook played together with the Thunder for three years and their Big Three with Kevin Durant reached the 2012 NBA Finals, eventually losing to the Heat in five games. The addition of Westbrook keeps the Rockets as contenders in a Western Conference that will be loaded with star power.

Can head coach Mike D’Antoni reconstruct his offense to tailor the needs of Harden, Westbrook and Gordon? It’s clear that the Rockets will go as far as Harden and Westbrook’s willingness to sacrifice takes them.

Rockets Roster & Starting Lineup

*Notates expected starter

C: Clint Capela*, Tyson Chandler, Nene
PF: P.J. Tucker*, Isaiah Hartenstein, Dyonta Davis
SF: Eric Gordon*, Danuel House Jr., Gerald Green, Gary Clark
SG: James Harden*, Michael Frazier, William McDowell-White
PG: Russell Westbrook*, Austin Rivers, Chris Chiozza, Shamorie Ponds, Chris Clemons

It was a busy offseason for the Rockets, in addition to the Westbrook trade and Gordon’s extension, they also agreed to a five-year $90 million extension with Clint Capela, re-signed Gerald Green, Austin Rivers and Nene and signed Tyson Chandler.

Eric Gordon became more of a fixture in the starting lineup last season, he came off the bench in just 15 of his 68 regular season games and he started in the team’s 11 playoff games.

Gordon averaged 16.2 points in 31.7 minutes in the regular season, making 36.0 percent of his 3-point attempts and 17.8 points in 37.3 minutes in the playoffs, shooting 40.0 percent from beyond the arc. He was one of six players to make 200 3-pointers each of the last three seasons. The others were Stephen Curry, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson and Kemba Walker.

Odds To Win The Western Conference
(Courtesy of 5Dimes)

Los Angeles Clippers +245

Los Angeles Lakers +290

Houston Rockets +495

Golden State Warriors +875

Utah Jazz +950

Denver Nuggets +1300

Portland Trail Blazers +2400

San Antonio Spurs +5000

Dallas Mavericks +5500

New Orleans Pelicans +7000

Sacramento Kings +17000

Minnesota Timberwolves +24500

Oklahoma City Thunder +27500

Phoenix Suns +50000

Memphis Grizzlies +50000