Russell Westbrook to Houston for Chris Paul and picks

Jul 15, 2005
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I don't know---seems like a lot of parity in the West. There's like 4 or 5 teams that seem ridiculous--Clips, Lakers, Rockets, Denver, Utah, plus Portland and Golden State and Spurs. I mean, that's fun.
I am inclined to start a coaching hot seat thread now. Someone is bound to have a slow start, someone is bound to get fired
 

m0ckduck

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If you squint and ignore the bad chemistry, you can say that the Rockets now have two top-10 guys who are healthier than the Clips’ or Lakers’ two top-10 guys.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Zach Lowe is more optimistic about the fit on the Rockets.

That is fantastic return for OKC. Cannot believe the old Thunder are all gone, and that two reunite in Houston. Rockets gave up more assets than I thought anyone would, let's see if they can make it work. Russ attacking close outs, Harden getting more spot up 3s is interesting.
 

HomeRunBaker

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The scuzzy ownership in OKC didn't want to spend the money to keep Harden, and lost the chance to go on a remarkable run. They ended up paying the tax anyways, and could not break through and get a title. Now they're looking at a long rebuild.

Rolling out Westbrook as a one man circus act every night will at least be entertaining for their fans.
Was there ever any reason to believe Harden would have signed with OKC to be the third banana? That never seemed reasonable to me as he wanted his own team.
 

lovegtm

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Was there ever any reason to believe Harden would have signed with OKC to be the third banana? That never seemed reasonable to me as he wanted his own team.
He was an RFA—no one who had a shot at a max payday has ever turned that down to sign the QO.

Now, he might have done like Hayward and signed a 3+1 for OKC to match, but that’s a different story.
 

lovegtm

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What if OKC used some picks to actually add a star like Beal? Get better and still have a haul of picks.
And then? Not sure how that helps them more than tanking—the current team plus Beal probably doesn’t make the playoffs.

This seems like an almost perfect spot for 2-3 year tank. As you get your young guys in, you keep having extra assets for the 5 years following that don’t get worse as you get better.
 

benhogan

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And then? Not sure how that helps them more than tanking—the current team plus Beal probably doesn’t make the playoffs.

This seems like an almost perfect spot for 2-3 year tank. As you get your young guys in, you keep having extra assets for the 5 years following that don’t get worse as you get better.
yea. a move for an All-Star, high salaried player (Beal) by OKC would be a head scratcher...They need to go full Hinkie at this point. Just shed salary/talent for shorter contracts, add picks/young players for the next 2 seasons. OKC fans are smart enough to understand their strategy and have experienced past success with the process.

The last time OKC had a trove of good draft picks:
2007 #2 Durant
2008 #24 Ibaka
2008 #4 Westbrook
2009 #3 Harden

That was 4 of their 5 first round picks
 
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Jimbodandy

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And then? Not sure how that helps them more than tanking—the current team plus Beal probably doesn’t make the playoffs.

This seems like an almost perfect spot for 2-3 year tank. As you get your young guys in, you keep having extra assets for the 5 years following that don’t get worse as you get better.
I think the team's first priority is to help Chris Paul find a landing spot. A few picks might come in handy there. Presti is supposed to be communing with Paul's agent to see what he can do.
I don't think that there's a person on this forum that could completely fuck up the pick smorgasbord OKC owns in the next decade. Miss on half, and they're still getting a couple of all stars and a few legit rotation players, just based on their own picks and the adds.

There's likely more that they can do to that end, and there's no hurry to do it. All they really need to do now is to come up with a useful synonym for "Process".

Edit: what BH said
 

lovegtm

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I think the team's first priority is to help Chris Paul find a landing spot. A few picks might come in handy there. Presti is supposed to be communing with Paul's agent to see what he can do.
Might be the opposite: Lowe’s new column hints that Presti thinks he can extract more by now flipping Paul to Miami. It will be pretty awesome when one team owns the entire 2025 draft.
 

lovegtm

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I don't think that there's a person on this forum that could completely fuck up the pick smorgasbord OKC owns in the next decade. Miss on half, and they're still getting a couple of all stars and a few legit rotation players, just based on their own picks and the adds.

There's likely more that they can do to that end, and there's no hurry to do it. All they really need to do now is to come up with a useful synonym for "Process".

Edit: what BH said
Also worth noting: now that we have 3 teams with massive outstanding obligations, the odds we get a Nets situation keeps rising. In addition, none of them will have assets to deal.
 

AMS25

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Might be the opposite: Lowe’s new column hints that Presti thinks he can extract more by now flipping Paul to Miami. It will be pretty awesome when one team owns the entire 2025 draft.
True dat. I guess I'm underestimating the desire of teams to take on an aging player with an awful contract.
 

Captaincoop

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Why would anyone give up picks to obtain Chris Paul and his insane contract? There may not be a worse contract in the league right now, what do you swap for it that justifies also throwing in picks?
 

Jimbodandy

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Also worth noting: now that we have 3 teams with massive outstanding obligations, the odds we get a Nets situation keeps rising. In addition, none of them will have assets to deal.
Yeah my mind is blown. At least the 2 firsts leaving Houston are top4 protected, but I haven't heard about the swaps being so.

I'm not sure if any of these teams were swayed by the "Kawhi in Toronto Experience" in being so comfortable bottoming out badly and longly for a a bite or three at the apple. But I never expected to see anything like the Nets deal again, let alone 2.5 of them in one week.
 

benhogan

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Why would anyone give up picks to obtain Chris Paul and his insane contract? There may not be a worse contract in the league right now, what do you swap for it that justifies also throwing in picks?
agreed. but there always seems to be some schmuck willing to pay big for past performance
 

JakeRae

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Seems more likely a Miami trade would just be about shedding the salary commitment for OKC. Dragic and Waiters for Paul works from a cap standpoint and might actually make sense for Miami from a talent standpoint.
 

lovegtm

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Seems more likely a Miami trade would just be about shedding the salary commitment for OKC. Dragic and Waiters for Paul works from a cap standpoint and might actually make sense for Miami from a talent standpoint.
Totally agree re shedding the salary commitment...but that’s what I thought about Westbrook too. We’ve been through the looking glass for a few weeks now.
 

benhogan

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Seems more likely a Miami trade would just be about shedding the salary commitment for OKC. Dragic and Waiters for Paul works from a cap standpoint and might actually make sense for Miami from a talent standpoint.
Waiters has to stay, so Spo can play the all EGO team of Butler, Paul, Waiters.

Harden has to be thrilled to be rid of Chris Paul's on-court lectures.
 

GreenMonster49

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Miami has literally no picks to trade right now. They have traded away all of their second-round picks from 2020 through 2027, their 2021 first-round pick (to OKC) and their 2023 first-round pick (to OKC via LAC), but protected in a way that it could convey in 2024, 2025, or 2026. So, if Miami is a landing spot for Paul, it is because of the players included in the trade and not draft considerations.
 

JokersWildJIMED

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Might be the opposite: Lowe’s new column hints that Presti thinks he can extract more by now flipping Paul to Miami. It will be pretty awesome when one team owns the entire 2025 draft.
Miami is hard capped so it is going to have to be players from Miami, not picks ..players that OKC can flip as they want out of the luxury tax. Depending on who they get from Miami will tell whether or not OKC needs to add picks to the deal.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Why would anyone give up picks to obtain Chris Paul and his insane contract? There may not be a worse contract in the league right now, what do you swap for it that justifies also throwing in picks?
John Wall says "Hola!"

Speaking of which, if OKC wants to go full tank what better way to do it than flip Paul for John Wall plus pick(s).
 

bowiac

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Paul's contract is underwater, but it's probably not a top 5 bad contract in the NBA. Wall, Wiggins, Rozier, Klay, and Batum are all worse off the top of my head. Arguably Durant's contract is worse too given the 3+1 structure, so you're paying a 32 year-old Durant $60M/year for two years coming off a career altering injury...
 

Jimbodandy

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John Wall says "Hola!"

Speaking of which, if OKC wants to go full tank what better way to do it than flip Paul for John Wall plus pick(s).
Yeah that would be a good deal. Some here are speculating that salary is the primary concern for OKC, specifically tax, but evidence from the Westbrook and George deals seem to indicate that accumulating picks is pretty damn important to them too.
 

Captaincoop

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Just have to vehemently disagree with several of those. I guess you can quibble about Wall or Batum versus Paul and who will be more overpaid for the next few years. But Klay? Durant? I'm not 100% sure I love those deals, but there were multiple teams lined up this summer to sign them if their current teams didn't. No one in the NBA would sign Paul to the remainder of his current contract right now.
 

Cellar-Door

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Despite all the 1st they've accumulated, OKC isn't really tanking.

I mean, they already had
SGA, Adams, Gallo, Roberson, Schroeder, etc.
and now they've upgraded Westbrook to Paul (yes, upgraded. Paul is older, he's more oft injured, but when he's on the court he's a better basketball player than Westbrook).

If they don't either move some guys or have injuries to Gallo and Paul, they have a decent shot of making the playoffs.
 

Devizier

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Why would anyone give up picks to obtain Chris Paul and his insane contract? There may not be a worse contract in the league right now, what do you swap for it that justifies also throwing in picks?
John Wall is about the only one who could be matched straight up. I could see Wiggins as well.
 

AMS25

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Despite all the 1st they've accumulated, OKC isn't really tanking.

I mean, they already had
SGA, Adams, Gallo, Roberson, Schroeder, etc.
and now they've upgraded Westbrook to Paul (yes, upgraded. Paul is older, he's more oft injured, but when he's on the court he's a better basketball player than Westbrook).

If they don't either move some guys or have injuries to Gallo and Paul, they have a decent shot of making the playoffs.
Oh, OKC will move Paul. And, OKC will move other players to get below the tax threshhold so they don't have to pay the repeater's tax. If OKC weren't tanking, the Thunder wouldn't have moved Jerami Grant, a player who had a reasonable salary and a good skillset. This is going to be a serious tank.
 

DannyDarwinism

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Despite his many, many flaws as a player, I’m a Westbrook fanboy, so I’m really interested to see how this plays out. He’s really tight with Harden and he’s gotta know that he needs to really change his game for it to work, but even then, it’s not like he can just morph into a good shooter. He’ll still be able to attack close-outs and handle the ball in certain match-ups, and with his quickness he’ll be a menace cutting to the basket while Harden goes to work, but he’s certainly not your typical off-ball threat. OKC has a ton of draft capital now.
 

moondog80

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Oh, OKC will move Paul. And, OKC will move other players to get below the tax threshhold so they don't have to pay the repeater's tax. If OKC weren't tanking, the Thunder wouldn't have moved Jerami Grant, a player who had a reasonable salary and a good skillset. This is going to be a serious tank.
You are probably right, but I can imagine a world where they trade Schroeder + filler + picks for Beal and they not only make the playoffs, but contend.
 

RedOctober3829

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And then? Not sure how that helps them more than tanking—the current team plus Beal probably doesn’t make the playoffs.

This seems like an almost perfect spot for 2-3 year tank. As you get your young guys in, you keep having extra assets for the 5 years following that don’t get worse as you get better.
I think you can trade off assets like Adams, Gallinari, and Schroder for more picks and also add a star.
Despite all the 1st they've accumulated, OKC isn't really tanking.

I mean, they already had
SGA, Adams, Gallo, Roberson, Schroeder, etc.
and now they've upgraded Westbrook to Paul (yes, upgraded. Paul is older, he's more oft injured, but when he's on the court he's a better basketball player than Westbrook).

If they don't either move some guys or have injuries to Gallo and Paul, they have a decent shot of making the playoffs.
Exactly. That's what I've been saying. They can continue to accumulate picks but still use some to improve the team.
 

CreightonGubanich

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I'm more optimistic than most about the Westbrook-Harden fit, mostly because of Harden's versatility. Obviously they can't run the Harden-iso offense from last season and park Russ in the corner. But Harden himself has given some indications that he'd prefer to play differently, and he has the skillset to do so. He's a really good off-the-ball player. I think if they run the offense through Russ and attempt to get Harden some more catch-and-shoot opportunities, the offense will be better than it was with Chris Paul acting as the nominal shooting guard.

Houston also has the ability to space the floor around Westbrook with four shooters, if they want to. Russ has never played with shooting around him. I actually think he's underrated as a playmaker after everyone was so quick to (rightly) slam him for his triple-double chasing. At a minimum, it's a chance Houston had to take, but I actually think, if they alter the offense from last season, there's the potential for a really good fit.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Yeah that would be a good deal. Some here are speculating that salary is the primary concern for OKC, specifically tax, but evidence from the Westbrook and George deals seem to indicate that accumulating picks is pretty damn important to them too.
I can't find the exact numbers but my estimates is that OKC shaved about $7MM in salary with the PG trade (which is about $30MM in total savings taking into account luxury tax) and an additional $9MM with the Grant trade (approximately $39MM total savings).

But I'm sure one major goal for them is to get under the LT threshold to reset their repeater tax.
 

67YAZ

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Oh, OKC will move Paul. And, OKC will move other players to get below the tax threshhold so they don't have to pay the repeater's tax. If OKC weren't tanking, the Thunder wouldn't have moved Jerami Grant, a player who had a reasonable salary and a good skillset. This is going to be a serious tank.
I'm thinking Paul + Heat's 2023 1st rounder for Dragic + Olyny, works with the Heat's Wayne Ellington trade exception. Gets OKC under the tax line and saves them almost $80m over 4 years. Miami gets to roll out with Paul & Butler...
 

benhogan

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Paul's contract is underwater, but it's probably not a top 5 bad contract in the NBA. Wall, Wiggins, Rozier, Klay, and Batum are all worse off the top of my head. Arguably Durant's contract is worse too given the 3+1 structure, so you're paying a 32 year-old Durant $60M/year for two years coming off a career altering injury...
Yikes. there are some bad contracts in the NBA, but Paul has to be in there for just its sheer size/length/age related decline and roster crippling power (like the Wall deal)

The bolded would blow up the Twitter-sphere, but I agree with it 100%. Be prepared to get plenty of push back around here :unsure:
 

Cesar Crespo

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All the elite talent is going to a handful or two of teams. 2/3 of the league has no shot.
Instead of 1 superstar per team. You have teams with 2 or 3, and many with none.
It's always been this way. The handful of teams is much bigger this year tho.

I wonder if we'll have a lot of 10-15 win teams this season.
 

The Social Chair

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All the elite talent is going to a handful or two of teams. 2/3 of the league has no shot.
Instead of 1 superstar per team. You have teams with 2 or 3, and many with none.
Bird, Magic, Jordan, and Isiah won 13 straight titles.

Jordan, Hakeem, Duncan, and Shaq won the next 10 titles.

This is how basketball works. But this year is as wide open as the league has been since 1999.
 

JakeRae

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I'm thinking Paul + Heat's 2023 1st rounder for Dragic + Olyny, works with the Heat's Wayne Ellington trade exception. Gets OKC under the tax line and saves them almost $80m over 4 years. Miami gets to roll out with Paul & Butler...
You can’t add a trade exception to outgoing salary for matching purposes, it can only be used to acquire a player whose salary fits within it.

But, you don’t need to match precisely so the exception isn’t needed. Dragic and either Olynyk or Waiters is enough (Winslow or Johnson would also work). I proposed Waiters upthread as he is basically worthless on a team trying to compete whereas Olynyk has value as a role player for Miami, but either works from a salary standpoint. I don’t know that OKC would throw a pick in. They are saving a lot of money but Miami would be getting a big talent upgrade.
 

nighthob

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I'm thinking Paul + Heat's 2023 1st rounder for Dragic + Olyny, works with the Heat's Wayne Ellington trade exception. Gets OKC under the tax line and saves them almost $80m over 4 years. Miami gets to roll out with Paul & Butler...
Miami is hard capped this year and only has around a million dollars to play with.They literally need to cut salary in any CP3 trade to make the numbers work. That means no first round picks coming back and having to either give up a useful player like Winslow to make the deal work or strip protections from the picks they already owe in order to get the Thunder to take back more flotsam like Waiters.
 

InstaFace

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OKC has at least 2 first round picks in 6 of the next 7 drafts. LOL
Here's what I don't understand, how does 2025 work?

YEAR FIRST-ROUNDERS
2020: 2 (own; DEN)
2021: 2 (own; MIA; can swap w/HOU)
2022: 2 (own; LAC)
2023: 2 (own; MIA; can swap w/LAC)
2024: 3 (own; LAC; HOU)
2025: 1 (own; can swap with LAC/HOU)
2026: 3 (own; LAC; HOU)


So you can now swap with TWO teams. Presumably those rights are independent of each other, but I'd assume you can only choose one team (the team with the higher pick) to swap with. That means even if both teams finish below OKC (such that the swap would have value), they'd have to give up that value for nothing because they can only exercise one or the other. So one of those swaps is guaranteed to end up being valueless.

But it didn't have to end up that way. Why not move the HOU pick to 2023 from 2024, and have swap rights with HOU in 2024 instead of their pick outright? I gotta imagine the Rockets wouldn't care about such a change that far out.
 
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InstaFace

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Miami has literally no picks to trade right now. They have traded away all of their second-round picks from 2020 through 2027, their 2021 first-round pick (to OKC) and their 2023 first-round pick (to OKC via LAC), but protected in a way that it could convey in 2024, 2025, or 2026. So, if Miami is a landing spot for Paul, it is because of the players included in the trade and not draft considerations.
They can trade the rights retained by the protections, though, right? The 2023 pick is lottery-protected for each of 2023, 2024, 2025 (unprotected in 2026). So they could trade their pick if and only if it's a lottery pick (or, say, picks 4-14) in 2023, and failing that, they would have their following year's pick unencumbered because it would have conveyed already. Given that OKC themselves now own the rights to MIA's pick, I'm guessing (might be prohibited by league rules) that they could also agree to modify the protections on the pick as considerations for a deal, to add value.
 

Cellar-Door

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The sneaky team to wonder about is MIN. I don't know that they do it, but Teague/Dieng/Bates-Diop works money-wise, and if they can't dump Wiggins they might as well add another star and make a run at the playoffs to keep KAT happy.
 

DavidTai

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Yikes. there are some bad contracts in the NBA, but Paul has to be in there for just its sheer size/length/age related decline and roster crippling power (like the Wall deal)

The bolded would blow up the Twitter-sphere, but I agree with it 100%. Be prepared to get plenty of push back around here :unsure:
Wall for Paul might actually be better for OKC's timeline - not only is Wall not playing next season, but OKC would get to keep the pick it sent to Philadelphia (it's top 20 protected, from the Markelle Fultz trade), and send two second round picks instead.

It might be worth it for the ability to tank for that pick without worrying about the player you get back making the team too good, nevermind Washington tossing in another pick or two.
 

nighthob

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But I'm sure one major goal for them is to get under the LT threshold to reset their repeater tax.
It’s a goal, but there’s no cap space left to dump contracts into, so it will happen next summer when guys like Gallinari leave in free agency. Had they known they were entering a forced rebuild I’m sure they would have worked with someone like Boston to create a TPE to dump Adams into, but they were caught off guard late in the game.

A more interesting thought is who they trade for going forward since they can’t actually use the first round picks they have. I’m skeptical that they take on a short-timer like Beal, but I could see them making a bid on someone about to hit RFA status whose teams might not be in a position to max them out (like say the next DeAngelo Russell).