Just when you thought that the dust was settling in NBA free agency, another major shoe was dropped by the Rockets and Thunder on Thursday night. The Rockets are acquiring Russell Westbrook from the Thunder in exchange for Chris Paul and a truckload of picks.
The package for Westbrook includes first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, as well as pick swaps in 2021 and 2025. That’s a big haul for Sam Presti and the Thunder, giving them the assets to execute a rebuild plan.
James Harden took initiative and proposed the reunion between and his former Thunder teammate. These two former MVPs form one of the most amazing backcourt duos in NBA history. However, there’s only so much ball to go around. They hold the top two spots for usage rate in a season since at least 1977-78. Mike D’Antoni will have his hands full in coming up with creative ways to facilitate Harden and Westbrook working like a well-oiled machine on the floor.
The Rockets have been strong contenders in the West for the last several seasons but have not been able to progress to the NBA finals. Westbrook is an upgrade to Chris Paul, but there are still some concerns that remain as to whether having him and Harden on the floor at the same time will work in their favor all the time.
The Thunder might not be done making moves just yet. Chris Paul’s agent quickly had a meeting with Sam Presti to discuss “next moves,” implying that CP3 could be on the move again. Sources indicate that the Miami Heat could be a landing spot for Paul, where he’d be paired up with two-way player Jimmy Butler.
The post-trade situation is still fluid, at least for the Thunder. It’s been a busy free agency frenzy for sure with over $3 billion worth of contracts signed. The NBA landscape is now drastically different from 2018-19.