In what had already been possibly the most earth-shaking off-season in NBA history, a summer that has totally reshaped the league for years to come, one more deal had to happen and throw everything off even more.
Russell Westbrook, the 30-year-old triple-double machine, was reunited with James Harden, another former league MVP known for putting up double digits in multiple categories, in Houston. Westbrook’s former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, will get Chris Paul, two protected first-round picks (2024 and 2026, both protected Nos. 1-4) and two pick swaps (2021 and 2025) according to ESPN’s sources. The deal sent shockwaves across the league, with the two former teammates coming together to make the most formidable backcourt in the league.
Westbrook and Harden have shared similar fates over the last few years. Both have put up incredible numbers game after game, but both have fallen short enough times, never making it to the top of the league. Now, with other former OKC teammate Kevin Durant gone from the Golden State Warriors, the Rockets, along with two Los Angeles teams with four of the best players in the league (the Clippers with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and the Lakers with Anthony Davis and LeBron James), have to be considered among the best in the West, but it’s still far too early to tell. Oklahoma City, meanwhile, went from the small market franchise that could, to a team in flux. They have Paul, sure, but they also have at least two first-round draft picks in six of the next seven drafts.
Before the trade, rumors swirled that Westbrook was on his way to Miami to play with Jimmy Butler. After the trade was announced, according t0 ESPN, Caesars Sportsbook changed Houston’s odds to win the 2019-20 NBA championship from 10-1 to 7-1, behind only the Lakers (7-2), Clippers (4-1) and Milwaukee Bucks (9-2).
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