Many have speculated that the Houston Rockets would be a better team next season without Chris Paul. So when Houston got rid of him and picked up Russell Westbrook in the process, the Rockets gained some real buzz as potential NBA championship contenders.
Notably, owner Tilman Fertitta definitely thinks so.
The Rockets owner must have raised some eyebrows when he spoke about the relationship between Westbrook and incumbent franchise star James Harden. Fertitta seemed to expect his team to be better next season because of the chemistry that the two stars have shared since their early prep days-- and it's safe to read Fertitta's comments as a major dig at the aging Paul.
There had long been rumblings that CP3 and Harden did not have the best relationship on or off the court as teammates, and the stats bear it out. This era in the NBA is that of pace and space, and the Rockets didn't do much running once Paul came to town.
In Westbrook, conversely, they have a one-man wrecking crew utterly coursing with energy.
Fertitta basically confirms that the ultimately disappointing 2018-19 Rockets season was caused by a poor locker room dynamic. Paul must have been more to blame than Harden in this regard, because he's the one who was shipped off unceremoniously to Oklahoma City, the same city in which Westbrook and Harden first put themselves on the map together.
Fertitta insisting that the Rockets will become a much better transition team with Westbrook replacing Paul is right on the money, and gives head coach Mike D'Antoni something closer to an optimized group. Houston has been a great team for years now; with the weakening Golden State empire, this may finally be the year for the Rockets to claim their championship at long last.