The NBA‘s frenetic movement this summer shows no sign of slowing down, following Russell Westbrook‘s trade to the Houston Rockets.
The Oklahoma City Thunder decided to go into rebuild mode after trading Paul George to the LA Clippers in exchange for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and five first-round picks, as well as pick swaps in 2023 and 2025. Now, they have added to their collection with what they received for Westbrook as the Rockets sent Chris Paul, first-round picks in 2024 and 2016, and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025 for the 2017 MVP.
Daryl Morey, the Rockets‘ general manager, is known for making bold moves to improve the team, and combining the MVPs from 2017 and 2018 in Westbrook and James Harden is one way of looking to compete with the likes of the LA Clippers and LA Lakers next year in the Western Conference. They will not be short of offensive potential either, with Harden (11,958 points) and Westbrook (10,025 points) being the NBA‘s two highest scorers over the last five seasons.
What the move also does is reunite Westbrook and Harden. The two guards played together for three years at the Thunder, alongside Kevin Durant, as they were one of the most talented teams in the NBA. They reached the NBA Finals in 2011/12 but ultimately lost to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade‘s Miami Heat in five games, with Harden departing that summer for Houston. In Texas, the 29-year-old blossomed as the move enabled him to go from being a sixth man of the year candidate to an MVP. It will be interesting to see how the two mesh together, given Harden‘s growth since the two were teammates at OKC.
It was reported that the Heat had discussed a trade for Westbrook with the Thunder, however it was the 30-year-old who wanted the move to Houston.
The Rockets have seen their odds of winning next year’s NBA championship improve after the trade, going from 10-1 to 7-1, as they instantly became the fourth favourite, only behind the Lakers (7-2), Clippers (4-1) and Milwaukee Bucks (9-2).
Westbrook has four years and 171 million dollars remaining on his contract, with a player option in the last year of the deal which will pay him 47 million dollars if he decides to stay.
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