Just when it looked like the wild NBA summer might be hitting the chill zone in advance of the men’s senior national teams (including the United States) getting together to prep for the FIBA World Cup, the Freaking Rockets traded Chris Paul, two first-round picks, and two pick swaps to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook. In less than one week, the Thunder went from running back a potential top-4 seed in a competitive West to having no All-Stars and a bajillion future draft picks.
Sam Presti comes at you fast.
This is a major dice roll for Daryl Morey and the Rockets, given that Westbrook is due $170 over the next four years (CP3 is at $124 million over three years) and that Westbrook is another level from Paul on usage and shot volume. Westbrook and James Harden obviously have a history, starting in OKC together. I’m not sure how much that will matter now.
It sounds like the Thunder are looking for a new home for the Point God, as well, with Miami being mentioned as a landing place. They have four pick assets from this deal to leverage going forward -- even using one or two of them would leave OKC net positive on dropping one of the most onerous contracts in the league. This trade would seem to show either Morey’s desperation or that the league market considers CP3’s contract worse than Westbrook’s, which I buy on the basis of age or production. I can also see the other side of the argument, which is that you’d rather have the efficient CP3 than the inefficient Westbrook. Obviously, Morey didn’t feel that way.
What a trade!
Thank You, Kawhi
If you like all of these dominoes falling in mid-July, thank your local Kawhi Leonard, who set this off with his machinations to get Paul George to Los Angeles. That led the Thunder to trade Westbrook, which put CP3 on the move, and since he’ll be moved again in all likelihood, the chain continues. If you’re pessimistic on the Rockets side of this, you could argue that Kawhi convincing Paul George to ask for a trade destroyed two Western competitors while improving his own.
Kawhi for Executive of the Year.
Royce Young puts a bow on the Thunder’s amazing decade-long run.
Most of the top picks aren’t playing in Vegas for one reason or another. Coby White sure is playing, though.
Important piece on the perils of sports specialization at young ages, focusing on basketball. When a kid is really good at one sport -- especially when that sport is basketball, where the best pros get generational wealth in their 20s -- is easy to fall into the young specialization track. But it’s really important parents and coaches fight against the tide on this.
Be excellent to each other.