What has been an eventful summer around the NBA world took another turn Thursday evening when the Oklahoma City Thunder sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets.
The deal included Chris Paul and two first-round picks heading to Oklahoma City.
It’s a swap of two high-priced veterans and future Hall of Famers. It also changes the dynamics for both teams as well as the rest of the Association.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from the blockbuster trade.
Winner: Daryl Morey
Houston has been attempting to add a second star to team up with James Harden. Without the necessary cap space, it became a major obstacle for the team and general manager Daryl Morey.
The Rockets had been linked to Jimmy Butler in the past, which included the possibility of moving the likes of Eric Gordon, Clint Capela and/or P.J. Tucker. Instead, Houston was able to move Paul’s bloated contract for a younger former league MVP without trading those core pieces. That has to be considered a win.
Loser: Russell Westbrook
On the other side of the ledger, this former MVP has to be considered a loser. When he teamed up with Harden earlier in their careers with the Thunder, Westbrook joined Kevin Durant as the face of the franchise. Harden played third fiddle, leading to a trade from Oklahoma City.
Fast forward seven years, and Westbrook heads to a Rockets team that’s led by Harden. He’ll be playing second fiddle in Houston. That can’t be seen as a win for Russ.
Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder
The trade of Paul George made it clear that these Thunder were looking to blow it up. However, it was going to be more difficult to move Westbrook. The former MVP is owed $170-plus million over the next four seasons. Reality told us a story of a bare market for Westbrook’s services.
Sure Oklahoma City had to take on Chris Paul’s contract, but it was able to add two more first-round picks to a cache of selections over the next several years. The ability to swap spots with Houston two other times could also loom large here.
Loser: Miami Heat
For a while there it seemed like Miami was the front runner for Westbrook’s services. The idea was to team him up with Jimmy Butler to form a dynamic back-court duo. This never came to fruition.
Instead, the Heat are now stuck with Goran Dragic’s bloated contract and a roster that’s likely nothing better than a bottom-rung playoff team back east. We have no idea how Westbrook would have worked teaming up with Butler. But no one can say Miami is better off after failing to land him.