The NBA offseason, to say the least, has been a rollercoaster of crazy, heart-stopping moments. From the New Orleans Pelicans getting the first overall pick in the NBA Draft to the blindsiding Paul George trade, the offseason has not disappointed.
The latest breathtaking moment this offseason came from a recent trade between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets. In an attempt to rebuild the franchise, the Thunder shipped off the longest tenured player in the NBA, Russell Westbrook, to the Rockets to pair up with former MVP James Harden.
After the George trade, reports began to circulate the Thunder were shopping Westbrook.
Based on conversations among player, agent and team, Oklahoma City for the first time is receptive toward trade calls on franchise star Russell Westbrook, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 8, 2019
The most likely trade destination seemed to be the Detroit Pistons or Miami Heat. The Rockets showed interest, but most saw Houston as a long shot.
However, Thunder general manager Sam Presti was trying to get the best he could get and send Westbrook to his desired trade location, and in turn the Thunder received Chris Paul along with two first-round picks and two pick swaps.
Since the George trade, it seemed Oklahoma City was aiming for a rebuild, knowing its roster had failed to reach expectations. The Westbrook trade furthered that narrative, and now the Thunder have received seven first-round picks and four pick swaps.
Oklahoma City put itself in a perfect position to rebuild, receiving an All-Star point guard (who could very well be traded before the season), fringe All-Star Danilo Gallinari and young guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
With those three players along with the 11 draft picks received from the two trades, the Thunder are on their way to becoming competitive in just a few short years.
As for Westbrook, he will pair up alongside Harden and young center Clint Capela. The fit in Houston will be interesting, as both Harden and Westbrook are primary ball-handlers and play a lot of isolation basketball.
The Rockets have also been notorious for their three-point shooting, but Westbrook does not fit into that picture. In his career, Westbrook has only shot 30.8% from behind the arc.
Westbrook also has taken a lot of heat for shooting some questionable three-pointers, raising questions as to why Houston traded for the former MVP.
The biggest thing to watch for with the Rockets will be seeing the adjustment of Westbrook. During this past season, he stepped aside at times to allow for Paul George to shine, and in Houston Westbrook will need to do the same for Harden, but to an even higher degree.
One argument in favor of Westbrook’s fit in Houston is his ability to run the pick and roll; however, Chris Paul might be the best pick-and-roll ball-handler to ever play, which raises even more questions as to what the Rockets are attempting to do.
With all the change happening in the NBA and the increase in competition, Houston could be trying to use Westbrook as a refresh and keep itself competitive.
After losing in six games to an injury plagued Golden State Warriors, many began to believed the Rockets’ championship timeframe had come to an end. By trading for Westbrook, Houston could be trying to prolong its lifespan by shaking up the roster.
The fit in Houston is an interesting one for Westbrook, but there is a reason he is only two years removed from an MVP season. Westbrook brings a competitive nature and tenacity very few players possess.
His drive and motivation to win a game may just be exactly what Houston needs to once again be the top dog in the Western Conference.