As the NBA offseason continues to keep us on our toes with deals, the latest Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards trade may be the most exciting we have seen so far. The deal contains a swap of All-Star point guards Russell Westbrook and John Wall. Both players can be some of the best in the game, yet have their downsides. What does this blockbuster trade mean for both teams?
After just one year with them, Russell Westbrook is already gone from the Houston Rockets. He has wanted to be traded for several weeks now, as the “culture” of the team was disappointing to him. Westbrook wants to be on a team where he can be the leader, the star. In Houston, he and James Harden couldn’t figure out where each other stood, which made Westbrook feel limited. According to reports, Harden also wants out of Houston, as the Houston Rockets seem to be falling apart.
Now as a Washington Wizard, Westbrook will have the role he’s accustomed to under head coach Scott Brooks, as being a star player. Brooks was Westbrook’s head coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder for seven seasons from 2008 to 2015. Westbrook will have Bradley Beal as a number two, who was the Wizards star last season while John Wall was out all year on the injured list. Beal is a great player, and with Westbrook joining the team, that will take a load of pressure off of him. He can take a role he is more used to as an off ball player, still being able to take over games when needed.
While Westbrook and Wall are at similar levels as players, Westbrook at this point is slightly more valuable, as Wall has missed the last season and a half due to leg injuries, which could take a massive toll on his game this upcoming year. Westbrook is not coming off his best season. Though he averaged a respectable 27 points per game, he shot for his worst three point percentage since 2010 at 25.8%, as pretty much all of his numbers had dipped from his previous seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The reason for his lesser season was the bad chemistry between him and Harden. He will most likely enjoy playing with Beal, and we could see those numbers go back up.
On the other end of the deal, John Wall also had requested a trade from his team. It’s unclear why Wall wanted out of Washington; however, one possible reason could be general manager Tommy Sheppard seemingly treating Bradley Beal as the Wizards’ star player.
When talking about Wall, the first word to come up is injuries, as he missed all of the 2019–20 season, and roughly half of the 2018–19 season. Wall, when on the court, is one of the best point guards in the game, but there is always that looming possibility that a player will not come back to full potential after that much time missed. Sources around Wall are saying he is playing extremely well in practices. That includes Brooklyn Nets superstar, Kevin Durant.
“He looked amazing to me. He looked great,” Durant said during Media Week. “I know he wants to go out there and play great basketball.” Durant is considered one of the greatest NBA players of all time, and possibly the best scorer ever. He has a Most Valuable Player award, Two championship rings, and is a ten time All-Star.
The Houston Rockets did not get an upgrade in Wall. The chemistry between Wall and Harden will be the same that was between Westbrook and Harden, a power struggle. The Rockets pretty much traded their old problems for new problems, only with a slightly lesser player in Wall. Houston also received a protected 2023 first round pick.
Though this was a huge trade, neither team improved much. It seems Washington may have come out on top; however, there is still a high possibility things will fall apart quickly. These were not long term moves, and it should be expected each team will make big changes within the next season.