Rockets Commemorate Anniversary of Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul Trade
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey vaulted the Rockets into championship contention in July 2017 when he traded a host of young players in order to receive then-Clippers point guard Chris Paul. And after two seasons with Paul alongside James Harden, Morey pulled off another shocking trade one year ago on Saturday. The deal has considerably altered Houston's outlook for the next decade.
Morey traded Chris Paul to Oklahoma City in July 2019, additionally sending the Thunder two first-round picks and two future pick swaps. Former Harden teammate and fellow MVP Russell Westbrook came to Houston in the deal, reshaping the Rockets overnight. Through 64 games, Morey should feel satisfied with his decision.
Westbrook got off to a slow start in Houston, struggling to effectively integrate himself alongside Harden. Westbrook's impact was largely muted in the half court, and his shooting woes continued after a rough final year in Oklahoma City. But Westbrook has turned the tide of late.
The UCLA product was in the midst of a dominant stretch before the NBA suspended the season on March 11. Westbrook is averaging 32.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game in his last 20 contests, shooting 52.7% from the field since Jan. 1. As Harden went into a scoring lull in January and February, Westbrook picked up the slack. He's been in true MVP form since the calendar turned to 2020.
Oklahoma City shouldn't regret their decision despite Westbrook's strong play of late. The Thunder received two first-round picks and a potentially valuable pair of swaps from the Westbrook trade, adding to their treasure trove of picks following the Paul George trade. As for Paul, he's experienced a slight career revival in 2019-20. The 10-time All-Star is averaging 17.7 points per game on 48.9% shooting, leading the NBA in clutch points this season.
Paul and the Thunder currently sit No. 5 in the Western Conference at 40–24, tied with the Rockets. The NBA will resume the 2019-20 season on July 30, with the playoffs slated to begin on Aug. 18.