It’s not common to see a team get equal value upon trading away their superstar player. In fact, we’ve seen recent examples of just how one-sided trades can be. The recent Anthony Davis trade was a good example, as the Los Angeles Lakers currently have the best record in the Western Conference during their first season with him and the Pelicans are currently on the outside looking in as it pertains to the playoff race.
We can even go back further to the Carmelo Anthony trade, which sent the former Houston Rockets forward packing from the Denver Nuggets to the New York Knicks. The Knicks made the playoffs in each of their first three seasons and the Nuggets only made the playoffs once during that span.
Although history says trades involving superstars tends to not work out for both teams, that’s exactly what happened when the Rockets made the CP3 trade. Fertitta acknowledged this with his comments below:
“Everything worked out,” he said. “I think Chris is having a great year at Oklahoma City. It worked out for both. James and Russell came in the league at the same time, and they can talk to each other differently. One can say, ‘Screw you,’ and it’s no big deal. Chris was four years older. Four years in basketball is like a normal 10 to 15 years in business life.”
At the time of the trade, many felt that the Rockets gave up too much since they sent away two first round draft picks for a player who seemingly didn’t fit their system.
But there was no way the Thunder were making that trade without the draft capital considering the remaining $124 million CP3 was owed, not to mention the fact that we were led to believe that CP3 was on the decline. We were right for believing that because Paul averaged just 15.6 points per game and shot a mere 41.9 percent from the field, which were both poor for a player of Paul’s caliber.
In fact, these were career lows, which is astounding considering the fact that CP3 had played fourteen years up until that point. CP3 has had a bounce-back year, as he made the All-Star team this season, which he didn’t do in either season in Houston. On top of that, CP3 has had a true shooting percentage of 60.8 percent, which is better than either season he played in Houston. CP3 also had fewer turnovers this season than during either year he played in Houston.
On top of that, CP3 has had a drastic improvement in nearly every category year-over-year including points, win shares, 3-point shooting, and rebounding. Paul has led the Thunder in assists, value over replacement player and total win shares.
Paul has been an integral part in the Thunder’s 35-22 record, which has them in sixth place in the Western Conference. On the flip side, Westbrook has been the better overall player for the Rockets, as he’s currently on a 28-game streak of having at least 20+ points.
Russ is averaging 27.2 points per game, which are the most he’s scored since his MVP season. On top of that, Russ is tied for seventh in the league in scoring and has been the catalyst for the Rockets’ small ball offense. Russ has had a higher player efficiency rating and true shooting percentage than the 2018-19 season and been a mismatch for opposing big men who are forced to defend him due to the Rockets’ schematic change.
Russ has had his fewest turnovers since the 2015-16 season and has had his highest field-goal percentage of his career. The Rockets are currently 37-20 and hold the fourth spot in the Western Conference, and are two games out of second place in the playoff race.
The other angle of the trade that Fertitta mentioned was regarding the relationship with James Harden, as he mentioned the closeness in age between Russ and Harden and the fact that they’re able to hold each other accountable, which are the same sentiments he echoed on ESPN’s First Take prior to the start of the season.
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