Crazy NBA Offseason Gets Wilder
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to trade Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul, first round picks in 2024 and 2026, and the right to swap first round picks in 2021 and 2025.
Having already secured the Clippers’ first rounders in 2022, 2024 and 2026, that the Thunder were able to lock up two more is incredible. There is a distinct possibility of the Thunder holding three first round picks in 2024 and 2026. The acquisitions of players like Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander make them a point guard heavy team (with Dennis Schröeder already in the mix), but this will still be an interesting team in 2019.
The Rockets escape from a dark place with regards to their cap space, only to potentially immediately delve back into it with Westbrook’s acquisition. For purely basketball purposes, the move makes sense, bring in a guy who can control the floor with excellent vision, and one who also has a ton of chemistry with incumbent superstar James Harden. However, Westbrook is due $42m in 2024, so this could really hamstring Houston in the future. Overall I like the move, but the money and draft cost could prove dangerous for a team very much built for today.
This feels like a win-win to me, the Thunder stockpiling even more draft picks in what looks like one of the smoothest and swiftest rebuilds to be recently executed, and the Rockets adding another superstar to a team looking to win for the first time since 1995. The biggest question here will be the relationship between Harden and Russ. The chemistry they have from their time in OKC will be huge, but with both players so ball-dominant now, can they still coexist? This is shaping up to be one of the most entertaining NBA seasons of all time, and I can’t wait for tip-off.