Morey made the most widely discussed move of the offseason when he swapped one future Hall-of-Fame guard in Chris Paul for another in Russell Westbrook. We had heard rumblings of CP3 and James Harden not getting along, but that was vehemently denied by all parties, including Morey himself.
So if that wasn’t the case, many wondered why he’d pull off such a move. Especially considering the widely accepted notion that the Rockets would have won the championship were it not for CP3’s hamstring injury. Morey had a very telling answer to this question.
“The Russ trade was similar to the Clint trade in that we just felt like you can’t win unless you’ve got a peak level that’s very high. We thought the team we had with Chris and James was extremely good but was going to come up short of the title. We thought that adding Russ, who unquestionably has this peak level of play that not many guys have reached, was the right move.”
There’s no denying Russ’s motor, as it’s not dwindled one bit despite him getting older. But how long did Morey know CP3 was going to be moved? This is what Paul has been very vocal about this season, as he felt he should’ve been given a heads up and has complained about being blindsided by the move.
CP3 has spoken about how he was misled by Morey and told he wasn’t going to be traded, only for Morey to do exactly that. Morey explained how it all unfolded, and how even he wasn’t expecting the trade to happen.
Everyone is like ‘you knew you were going to make this trade’ but I was adamantly telling people we weren’t going to make a big trade because that is really strongly what I believed.
Now, there’s no way I could have anticipated the Paul George situation opening up that option. That option seemed just not even in our set of possibilities. In retrospect, maybe I could have anticipated it but I didn’t.
From this lens, there’s a far different perspective to draw. Morey didn’t know Paul George was going to be traded, as he had just re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the previous offseason, so Russ wasn’t even in consideration.
Once PG13 was moved, it was clear the Thunder were rebuilding, and it didn’t exactly make sense for Russ to stick around for that, as they were stockpiling assets for their future. For Russ, who had played 11 seasons in OKC, it didn’t make sense to be a part of that rebuild.
That’s when the move was ultimately made, and despite CP3’s endless complaints, it’s actually worked out well for both teams. Paul has improved his level of play, and the Thunder are going to make the playoffs because of it.
Next: Origins of small ball