With a reported rift growing between Houston’s back court duo and Paul’s increasing age and lengthy injury history, the Rockets made the best out of a difficult situation. It appeared as if Houston was stuck with Paul’s contract for the time being, but they were able to use multiple first-round draft picks to persuade the Thunder to take him and get a former MVP in return.
Previous reports indicated that Houston wanted to keep Paul and add Westbrook to the mix. This meant the Rockets would’ve likely traded away Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker in order to take on Westbrook’s $38 million salary. That trade would’ve gutted most of the team’s remaining depth, and with few viable role players left on the open market, Houston’s supporting cast would’ve been quite thin.
Instead, the Rockets were able to trade Paul for a younger, more athletic and talented player while retaining all of their best role players. Sure, Houston gave up a lot of first-round picks, but those picks were very unlikely to fall in the lottery.
Westbrook isn’t necessarily the perfect fit for Houston. He shot just 29 percent from 3-point range last season and he isn’t the most efficient isolation scorer, averaging just 0.75 points per possession on iso’s last season, ranking only in the 30th percentile.
However, the Rockets swapped point guards with OKC, and they clearly got the better player out of the deal while re-connecting two former superstars that made a Finals run together back in 2012. That’s a big win.