Rockets trade Chris Paul, picks, for Russell Westbrook
Thursday evening the Houston Rockets traded point guard Chris Paul, first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for all-star point guard Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook, a former teammate of James Harden, had begun trade discussions with the Thunder's front office immediately following a trade which sent MVP candidate Paul George to the Clippers in exchange for promising young point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and even more draft picks. Realizing that the Thunder had suddenly been forced into a rebuild mode through no fault of their own, Westbrook and the Thunder sought to find an amicable solution.
The shocking move once again thrusts the Houston Rockets into title contention, as Chris Paul had begun experiencing a noticeable decline in production during his second season in the Space City. Add in the alleged friction between Paul and Harden, and suddenly the Rockets became a very interested party from the outset of Westbrook's perceived availability.
In what seemed like an uncharacteristically dormant offseason for General Manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets suddenly re-injected their team with one of the most athletic talents in the entire league. Westbrook brings a tenacity and ferocity that is beloved by the team he plays for and reviled by the opposition.
Say what you want about Westbrook's attitude or demeanor. None of that matters. The Rockets won this trade outright, and in a lopsided fashion. It was allowed to be lopsided by the Thunder out of respect to Westbrook and everything he's done for the franchise.
Houston now boasts two MVP-caliber superstars once again with a franchise that has lost none of it's starters, and has resigned every key bench piece that has helped the Rockets to the league's second best combined record throughout the past three years. And even if it all blows up in our faces, man will it be entertaining to watch.