Houston Rockets, NBA

Russell Westbrook reuniting with James Harden as Rockets, Thunder complete trade

The NBA’s wild summer continued with another stunning blockbuster trade, with the Oklahoma City Thunder sending Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul and a boatload of draft picks.

In the wake of some sudden vulnerability out in Golden State and landscape shifting decisions from free agents like Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant, the NBA is as wide open as ever. Teams all over the league see a window of opportunity to go for a championship, including the Houston Rockets, who just pulled off a blockbuster deal to bring Russell Westbrook to the Toyota Center.

The trade reunites Westbrook with James Harden, who began his career with Oklahoma City before being traded to Houston. The Rockets also rid themselves of Chris Paul’s dreadful contract in exchange for the chance to bring in Westbrook now and take advantage of Harden’s prime to try and win a championship right now.

The deal was a bit inevitable from the Thunder’s perspective, especially after they just dealt Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers days ago. Bringing in Chris Paul gives the Thunder a point guard who makes similar money as Westbrook, but the real value in the deal is all of the draft picks they got from the Rockets.

Houston sent first round picks in 2024 and 2026, and the right to swap picks in 2021 and 2025, to Oklahoma City in order to get the deal done. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski points out that the Thunder have acquired so many assets from these two deals that they may be able to put the Philadelphia 76ers’ process to shame.

There’s no doubt that the Thunder are going to be pretty terrible for a few years, but it will be absolutely fascinating to see how this deal plays out in the long term. Hanging onto Westbrook as the team’s lone star made no sense, so getting out of his deal and extracting extra picks gives them a lot of ammunition to become a very intriguing team when those draft picks start to convey.

It is a steep price for Houston, but the Rockets rightly felt that they needed to take advantage of their window to try and get out of the West and win an NBA title. Time will tell if their move was worth it.

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