Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, will now go to another team after ten years with the Texans, where he produced 101 sacks.
“I’m very excited and looking forward to this new opportunity and I’ve been working really hard,” Watt said Friday. “But at the same time, it’s always hard to move on.”
Watt now joins an extensive and growing list of players who left Houston teams last year.
When: March 2020
Where: The Arizona Cardinals made a fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Entry Draft, beating David Johnson and making two draft picks.
What happened: Hopkins threw 54 touchdown passes in seven seasons in Houston. He was QB Deshaun Watson’s best target and one of the best young receivers in the league. In his evaluation of the exchange, Bill Barnwell described it as “amazing, baffling and inexplicable for [Bill] O’Brien, whose strange journey as Texas general manager will one day be the subject of a 30-by-30 documentary. In his first season in Arizona, Hopkins was a receiver for the QB Kyler Murray Cardinals. Hopkins caught 115 assists for 1,407 yards and six scores in 2020.
When: December 2020
Where: Westbrook was traded by the Houston Rockets against the Washington Wizards for John Wall and a lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick.
What happened: Westbrook’s stay in Houston was short-lived, but he averaged 27.2 points per game in one season with the Rockets. The Rockets were prematurely eliminated from the NBA playoffs in 2020, and according to Tim McMahon of ESPN, “Westbrook was frustrated with the style of play and lack of discipline of his then partner, James Harden. This season, Westbrook is averaging 19.7 points per game and the Wizards stand at 6-16.
Staff Sergeant James Harden
When: January 2021
True: Harden was traded from the Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets in a four-way deal.
What happened: Harden’s eight seasons in Houston made him a true superstar. He was a three-time top scorer and MVP in 2018, but the Rockets never reached the NBA Finals with Harden, despite his scoring prowess. At the beginning of the season, Houston had lost its coach and GM, and Harden called for a trade. He arrived late to training camp and reportedly scored with a header over Westbrook. “I don’t blame James. I blame the organization,” the former Rockets assistant told McMahon. “It’s not his fault. He did what he was allowed to do.” In mid-January, Harden got his wish. He scored a triple-double in his debut for the Nets. With stars as talented as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Harden averaged 23.9 points per game and 11 assists. The assists are nearly five points per game higher than his career average.
When: January 2021
True: A week after Harden, Springer left the Houston Astros and signed a six-year, $150 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.
What happened. Springer has been the centerpiece of the Astros’ recent dominance. He has hit 174 home runs in seven seasons in Houston. He was involved in two World Series victories in 2017 and was named MVP. Springer is the second most titled player, behind Mike Trout, in terms of wins over replacement players in two of the last three seasons. In Toronto, he will be another big hitter in the lineup of Bo Bichette, Kavanaugh Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Frequently asked questions
Why is J.J. Watt leaving Houston?
In a moving message to Houston residents, J.J. Watt said he is leaving the city he loves because it is time to move on.
Will James Harden be leaving Houston?
Houston Rockets have traded James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, ESPN sources Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne report.
Who is James Harden’s best friend?
Houston Rockets superstar James Harden has received unique gifts for his birthday for his friend, rapper Lil Baby.