After an offseason full of shocking moves, NBA fans were met with another shocker when the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets engaged in a trade sending Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul, two first-round picks and two pick swaps. The Miami Heat were also interested in trading for Russell Westbrook but were not willing to give up Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow and Tyler Herro. This move was to be expected as it was reported that Russell Westbrook expressed his interest in being traded from the OKC before Paul George was traded. This move is very interesting for both sides for different reasons and where both teams go from here. Here is my perspective on this trade between these two teams.
My initial thoughts when I saw the announcement of this trade was what in the world was Houston thinking. I do not see how Houston is going to make this trade work. This is beyond wondering how Russell Westbrook and James Harden are going to play together, this is about how this team is going to play together. This team is very backcourt heavy with their only relevant frontcourt player being Clint Capela. This team as currently constructed is going to be killed on the boards, they are going to get exposed defensively and their offense is sure to be stagnant with two ball dominant players running the offense. Tyson Chandler is a solid pickup for the Rockets but its still not enough depth in their frontcourt for them to be taken seriously as a contender. I see the Rockets a lower tier playoff team but I can not see them winning a playoff series let alone getting to the NBA Finals as currently constructed.
For OKC, they are without a doubt the winners of this trade as they are better built to compete in the long run. The Thuder are building for their future and have stockpiled draft picks this offseason to be set for years to come. The Thunder have acquired eight first-round picks in trades this offseason between this trade, the Jerami Grant trade to Denver and the Paul George trade. The Thunder will look to trade Chris Paul to his preferred destination which could bring more draft picks for OKC. Beyond their draft picks, they also have a promising young core in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroder, Steven Adams and Terrance Ferguson among others. It will be interesting to see how the Thunder use their acquired draft picks and how good those picks become.
In conclusion, both teams had two completely different motivations behind this trade. While the Thunder are looking to rebuild their team stockpiling draft picks, the Rockets are trying to win now and are going all in with a Russell Westbrook-James Harden duo. I doubt that either team is done making move this offseason there could be a few trades or free agent signings on the horizon for both teams. Only time will tell how this trade will work out for both teams but as for now I have the Thunder as the winner. With all of the incredible moves we’ve seen made this offseason, it is going to be a long wait for the 2019-2020 NBA season to begin.