Everybody had an opinion about the summer trade of Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. Entering the second half of the NBA season, it’s time to revisit.
All hell broke loose in Oklahoma City this past summer. As unknowing innocent bystanders to the Kawhi Leonard saga, while the whole NBA world lingered in a holding pattern, it turned out the Oklahoma City Thunder held the key to Leonard’s decision in the form of Paul George. After the bomb dropped and George was traded to the LA Clippers, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul were pulled into each other’s orbit.
By the time all was said and done, Westbrook was traded from the Thunder to the Houston Rockets for Paul. The haul of draft assets (first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025) the Thunder received for Westbrook should make them pretty sizeable winners in the deal over the next few years, but especially for the Rockets, what matters is right now.
After coming tantalizingly close to toppling the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference playoffs the last couple years, the Rockets clearly have little interest in anything but pushing for a championship immediately. They have a superstar at the peak of his powers in James Harden, and teams don’t get that window often.
The middle of the decade might be torturous, but it’s possible (likely?) nobody currently associated with the Rockets will even be in the organization by that point.
From a perspective focusing on this year alone, it’s time to evaluate where both parties stand as we look back at the summer’s biggest blockbuster trade featuring Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul.