Grading the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook-Chris Paul trade (after trading CP3 to Suns)
After the Oklahoma City Thunder were able to pull off a trade to ship star guard Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns, the last remnant of the Paul-for-Russell Westbrook deal is officially gone. OKC now finds themselves in the midst of rebuilding, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as their respected face for the time being.
After the Paul to Phoenix deal, the lone wolf remaining is big man Steven Adams, who reportedly could be on the move in a short time to follow. The Thunder recently agreed in principle to trade Dennis Schroeder to the Los Angeles Lakers, which was another sure sign that they were ready and willing to move to another direction with their heap of draft picks to carry them over.
Even so, what the Thunder were able to get back in a swap for Paul correlates to what they gave up to get him, which entails Westbrook. Coming full circle, spectators will wonder who truly won the short-lived deal between the Thunder and the Houston Rockets for swapping their star guards.
The Thunder saw the writing on the wall with Westbrook, which made them elect to move on from the nine-time All-Star after 11 stat-shattering seasons. For all the triple-double montages that he owned, it never translated to the team making some legit noise in the postseason. With Russ out of the picture, the time came for the Thunder to plan their next steps.
In reality, this rebuild began last season, even though Paul was able to help elevate the first-round exit club to the playoffs. The bigger picture for the Thunder was being able to flip Westbrook for the draft picks, similar to the move they made with Paul George to the Clippers. While the argument could be made of Paul being a better fit with OKC during his lone year, his brief accomplishments were footnotes in comparison to what Oklahoma’s front office truly sought out.
Now, they’re primed with at least 16 first-round picks to carry them through the 2026 NBA Draft. If the Thunder were aiming to prime themselves for the next era of players, mission accomplished.
Looking back on the deal, the only achievement the Rockets made was producing a buddy system for Westbrook and James Harden.
Harden believed that the Rockets could accomplish much more if he had Westbrook instead of Paul as his running mate, and so far, that dream hasn’t worked out in the least.
The two stars proved one major prediction to be true: there’s not a chance that they can efficiently share the ball if both are on the court at the same time. They were able to eliminate the Thunder during the playoffs, which doesn’t speak volumes given the trajectory the Rockets front office had for the Westbrook-Harden duo.
Now, Houston find themselves as the most-gossiped about franchise as free agency and trade season round the corner. More than a handful of Rockets players have expressed their displeasure with their roles, with Westbrook headlining that effort. After just giving up a few first-rounders and Paul only a year ago, the Rockets may be letting an overpriced Westbrook go for practically nothing in return.
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