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SportRussell Westbrook trade grades: Rockets take huge gamble; Thunder lay foundation for rebuild

15:05  12 july  2019
15:05  12 july  2019 Source:   sportingnews.com

Russell Westbrook trade rumors: Thunder send star to Rockets for package including Chris Paul

Russell Westbrook trade rumors: Thunder send star to Rockets for package including Chris Paul The Rockets did trade Chris Paul and the Thunder did trade Russell Westbrook.

Trade Grades : Thunder , Rockets Swap Stars in Russell Westbrook -Chris Paul Deal. In a blockbuster trade that will send Russell Westbrook to Houston and Chris Paul to OKC, the Thunder actually come away with an abundance of value as they prepare for an all-out rebuild .

Westbrook was traded to the Houston Rockets in exchange for veteran point guard Chris Paul and a pair of first round picks. Harden has certainly developed into one of the NBA's premier ball-handlers, but he may have to take a back seat with Westbrook now joining him in the Houston backcourt.

Russell Westbrook trade grades: Rockets take huge gamble; Thunder lay foundation for rebuild © Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited

Russell Westbrook is a Rocket man, but this deal didn't take a long, long time.

Less than a week after the Thunder traded Paul George to the Clippers, Oklahoma City sent Westbrook to the Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul plus multiple first-round picks and swaps, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Houston was reportedly searching for a third team as a Paul landing spot, but for now, he will be a member of the Thunder.

What does this trade mean for the Rockets and Thunder moving forward?

Here are the reported details of the deal and a breakdown of the short- and long-term ramifications for each side.

Trading Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook makes Rockets 'a better team'

Trading Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook makes Rockets 'a better team' Houston's decision to trade Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook makes team owner Tilman Fertitta excited.

Report: Thunder Trade Russell Westbrook to Rockets for Chris Paul. Westbrook 's trade is the latest step toward Oklahoma City's efforts to rebuild after All-Star forward Paul George pushed the Thunder to trade him to the Clippers earlier this month, partnering him with Kawhi Leonard in Los

“We’ re excited to have Russell Westbrook ,” Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said in a statement. “I would watch him play for Oklahoma City and he’s so Houston fell to the Golden State Warriors in the conference finals. Paul played six seasons with the Clippers before being traded to the Rockets in

TRADE RUMORS: Will Chris Paul's stay in OKC be short?

Russell Westbrook trade grades

Rockets receive: Russell Westbrook

Thunder receive: Chris Paul, future first-round picks (2024 and 2026), future pick swaps (2021 and 2025)

MORE: What happened last time Westbrook, Harden played together?

Rockets: C

The Rockets could have easily run it back for another year with James Harden and Paul leading the way, but general manager Daryl Morey opted to go all-in with Westbrook, Harden's former Thunder teammate. Morey is the type of GM who likes to acquire as much talent as possible, then figure out the specifics later. This lines up perfectly with that strategy.

The Thunder have all the draft picks after trading Russell Westbrook, Paul George

The Thunder have all the draft picks after trading Russell Westbrook, Paul George In total, Oklahoma City has added eight first-round picks this offseason and holds 15 over the next seven drafts. Here’s a complete list of the Thunder’s first-round picks from 2020-26 2026 3 Own, Clippers, Rockets (1-4) MORE: Chris Paul trade rumors: Will Thunder move guard again after acquiring him for Russell Westbrook? | Rockets reunite Russell Westbrook, James Harden: A look back at what happened the last time the stars played together | Thunder trade Russell Westbrook to Rockets: Analyzing Oklahoma City’s rebuild Draft year No.

The Rockets ' Trade for Russell Westbrook Reeks of Desperation. Once you get over the shock Russell Westbrook landing on the Rockets and reuniting him with James Harden, the deal seems After taking a breath, however, the Westbrook -for-Paul swap—in the short-term—feels more like a

The Thunder have traded the 2017 MVP to the Rockets for Chris Paul, and nobody can believe what is going on. Rockets fans haven't even finished warming up the slander machine for Westbrook after Paul George dipped on him before Presti shipped him straight to Houston, this is going to be fun.

Westbrook earned a spot on the All-NBA Third Team for 2018-19 after averaging a triple-double for the third consecutive season (22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists). He remains one of the most ferocious, athletic drivers in the league, creating opportunities to score for himself and others. He shot a career-high 65 percent at the rim this past season and finished third in the NBA in drives behind Harden and DeMar DeRozan.

An elite rebounder at the guard position, Westbrook can go coast-to-coast and constantly put pressure on his opponents. He is a willing passer, and he should rack up plenty of assists with Harden, Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker on the perimeter and Clint Capela diving to the basket. Overall, despite his obvious flaws, Westbrook is clearly an impact player.

But it's the nature of his flaws that makes this such a risky bet. His shooting has plummeted, even by his own standards. That's a problem for a 3-point happy team like the Rockets.

Russell Westbrook trade rumors: Rockets pursuing three-team deal for Thunder guard

Russell Westbrook trade rumors: Rockets pursuing three-team deal for Thunder guard The Heat seem to be the favorite to land Russell Westbrook with the Thunder guard now on the trade block, but the Rockets aren't giving up just yet. Houston is looking to execute a three-team deal in order to acquire the eight-time All-Star, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. NBA TRADE RUMORS: These five teams could pursue Russell Westbrook "I will say this — the Houston Rockets are trying to get in on this," Windhorst said on "SportsCenter" when asked by Cari Champion about a Westbrook trade. "They're trying to get in and possibly do a three-team trade where they could get their hands on Russell Westbrook.

Rockets ’ Russell Westbrook -James Harden Pairing Latest NBA Star Duo. While the Rockets bolstered their outlook with the Westbrook trade , it sets up yet another dynamic duo in the NBA. Although some teams are still able to roll out their own form of a “big three,” we’ve seen star pairings

The Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to trade Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul, first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, pick swaps in 2021 and 2025, league sources tell ESPN.

While Westbrook is terrible on above-the-break 3-pointers (27.9 percent) in 2018-19, he actually was respectable from the corners (37.2 percent). He only took 51 total shots from the corners, though, and 359 above the break. That number needs to dip way down. Those crazy pull-ups with 20 seconds on the shot clock? Please stop.

There's also the issue of whether Westbrook can cede the floor to Harden, and vice versa. They are both at their best with the ball. We're talking about two guards with the highest single-season usage percentages in NBA history.

Harden will have to be a spot-up threat when Westbrook is initiating the offense. Harden only attempted 70 catch-and-shoot 3-pointers last season, but he did hit on 41.1 percent of them. (Westbrook was just under 32 percent on 166 such attempts.) At some point, these guys must throw in off-ball movement and cutting. They can't treat every trip down to the wing or corner as a personal timeout.

NBA free agency rumors: Rockets add Tyson Chandler after trading for Russell Westbrook

NBA free agency rumors: Rockets add Tyson Chandler after trading for Russell Westbrook Mike D’Antoni coached Chandler with the Knicks, and reportedly pushed to bring the veteran to Houston.

Oklahoma City Thunder star point guard Russell Westbrook (pictured) will reunite with former teammate and Houston Rockets star James Harden after the trade is finalized. Westbrook 's preferred destination was Houston to reunite with former teammate James Harden, according to ESPN.

The Rockets have acquired Russell Westbrook and moved Chris Paul. Houston has picked up Westbrook in a trade with the Thunder , according to ESPN. That move all but signified a rebuild for the Thunder and generated buzz surrounding a possible Westbrook trade .

MORE: NBA players react to Russell Westbrook-James Harden reunion

If anyone can steer Westbrook toward his offensive strengths, it's Mike D'Antoni. The bigger question might be how Houston stops anyone. Paul topped all other point guards in ESPN's Real Defensive Plus-Minus, and the Rockets' defensive rating dropped nearly eight points per 100 possessions with Paul on the floor vs. off. Compare that to Westbrook, who finished 32nd in that same metric and saw the Thunder's defense improve with him on the bench. It's hard to envision Harden or Westbrook as anything more than solid defenders, so Tucker and Capela will have work to do.

Maybe Westbrook can truly change. He allowed George to spread his wings in OKC when he emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate, and Westbrook wasn't a total sieve defensively. But he didn't break his bad habits, and the Thunder flamed out in the first round again. Can a man who has been so particular about his approach, style, parking spot and pregame sandwiches for a decade learn to be less rigid?

Should this grand experiment fail, Morey will shoulder the blame. The Rockets would be stuck with Westbrook's huge contract, which lasts a year beyond Paul's and presents Westbrook with a whopping $47.1 million player option for 2022-23. If they start heading downhill early, those picks and swaps will loom large. (It's crazy to think Houston had to tag those sweeteners onto Paul after signing him to a four-year deal just last summer.)

Russell Westbrook pens heartfelt goodbye to OKC after trade to Rockets

Russell Westbrook pens heartfelt goodbye to OKC after trade to Rockets "I can’t even begin to put into words all of the emotions I have right now," Westbrook wrote. "It’s been one heck of a journey Oklahoma!"

Thunder trade Russell Westbrook to Rockets for Chris Paul in blockbuster. After the Thunder traded George for five first-round round picks, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari, it became apparent Westbrook ’s time in Oklahoma City was coming to an end.

Russell Westbrook - Career stats, game logs, biographical info, awards, and achievements for the NBA and NCAA. Team: Oklahoma City Thunder . 7/7 The Heat are a “team to watch” in the Russell Westbrook situation, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said today during the network’s broadcast

This trade isn't an abomination. View it from Morey's perspective, and it's easier to understand why he did it. Westbrook is slightly underrated now because he is such an easy target.

But if this wasn't a case of the Harden and Paul relationship being truly unsalvageable — ESPN's Tim MacMahon says that didn't factor into Houston's decision — then it feels a bit too much like throwing something against a wall and hoping it sticks.

The previous Rockets core may have reached the NBA Finals with the Warriors out of the way. We'll never know.

MORE: Rockets, Thunder see championship odds shift after trade

Thunder: A-

Westbrook leaves the Thunder with the most points, second-most assists and third-most rebounds in franchise history. The Thunder fans will certainly give him a standing ovation when he returns, and he can expect a statue outside of Chesapeake Energy Arena down the road. It's a shame he couldn't follow the Dirk Nowitzki path and wear the same uniform his entire career.

Sentiment aside, this was absolutely the right call by Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti. Concerns about Westbrook's fit with a new team and his contract dinged his value, but Presti navigated through a trade negotiation without attaching an asset to Westbrook.

The Thunder now hold 15 first-round picks15 — over the next seven drafts when adding up their own plus the selections acquired via the George, Westbrook and Jerami Grant trades. Presti is going to be Mr. Steal Yo Pick for the next half-decade.

It's possible the Clippers and Thunder picks never drop low enough to become prized prospects, but who knows where those teams will fall in the standings each season, or when the next steal of the draft will arrive? OKC can hope for a friendly bounce at future lottery drawings or use those first-rounders in other deals. Presti produced flexibility, and that's exactly what any rebuilding team needs.

MORE: What trading Russell Westbrook means for Thunder's rebuild

As for Paul, he isn't the prime "Point God" seen during his Hornets and Clippers days. He is overpaid, but that doesn't mean he can't contribute to a winning team.

He averaged 15.6 points, 8.4 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals after the All-Star break last season. He scored 27 points (11-of-19 from the field), grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out six assists in the Rockets' Game 6 loss to the Warriors, which eliminated Houston from the 2019 playoffs. There are some minutes left in those legs.

Paul could just be making a pit stop before another trade is executed. The Heat are a possibility for Paul, according to Wojnarowski, and Paul's agent, Leon Rose, represents Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem. The connections are there.

Oklahoma City wants to avoid the luxury tax, so another move is coming, whether it involves Paul or another Thunder player. Fortunately for Presti, he has the picks to pull of any deal, big or small, should he consider it worthwhile.

Trading away two All-Stars in favor of a rebuild isn't fun, especially when one of those players is an Oklahoma City icon. If it's unavoidable, though, a return package of Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, seven first-rounders and four pick swaps should ease the pain.

NBA championship odds 2020: Odds for Thunder, Rockets adjusted after Russell Westbrook-Chris Paul blockbuster.
The latest NBA megatrade left everyone's head spinning. Here's how the Vegas odds have moved in wake of the deal.

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