Westbrook leaves OKC for Houston for Chris Paul and draft picks/swaps
This is an exciting move for Houston and puts them squarely in the mix in the Western Conference. Westbrook and Harden are both super high usage players but we are counting on their personal friendship and previous partnership in OKC to help manage any issues about who gets the ball, especially at crunch time We believe it makes sense for Mike Dantoni to try to stagger the minutes of these two so one of these “alpha dogs” is always on the court. One key question is what does this new partnership mean for Eric Gordon who will likely find himself standing in the corner waiting for a pass that will not come. Would Andre Igoudala make more sense as the Rockets three man? We will break this down in more detail later this week on our podcasts but Houston appears to be a top 4 team in the super competitive West.
The trade confirms that OKC has moved into a full rebuild mold. We understand they have 15 first round picks in the next 7 (2020-2026) drafts. The question now is what to do with Chris Paul who we are confident does not want to join a rebuilding team. SGA, arguably the player the Thunder want to build around, is a point guard so OKC also needs to move Paul for positional fit. The problem for OKC is the only suitor for Paul appears to be the Miami Heat who have time on their side. Apparently Paul has expressed interest in playing with newly acquired Jimmy Butler in Miami so this could work for both sides. In addition to Paul we expect OKC to move Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroeder at some point before the trade deadline so OKC will likely add even more picks, and perhaps a few expiring contracts between now and the end of February.
Other NBA Rumors (some we are creating)
Kevin Love: We believe that Kevin Love to Portland makes a lot of sense for both sides but it appears the Cavs plan to start the year with Love as their marquee player. The Blazers lost both starting forwards (Harkless and Aminu) from last years Western Conference Finals team and we view Zach Collins as a center not a 4 man but Cleveland apparently is telling teams Love is not on the market (at least for now).
DeAngelo Russell: In a major surprise DeAngelo Russell ended up on The Golden State Warriors as part of the Kevin Durant deal. While Russell is an intriguing player, he is a guard so when Klay Thompson returns early in calendar 2020, the Golden State roster may be too top heavy at the guard spot. Minnesota (Wiggins could use a change of scenery) makes a ton of sense. We understand DeAngelo is close with Karl Anthony Towns, The T Wolves best player, but would the Warriors believe they could revive Andrew Wiggins career and what else would they want from the Wolves? Another rumor has Russell traded to the Knicks for sharp shooter Reggie Bullock and tough guy Marcus Morris. What do the Knicks think of Dennis Smith Jr after half a season?
Ben Simmons: Brian likes Ben Simmons to Toronto for Kyle Lowry (Mike believes the 76ers would need a lot more than just Lowry). The issue for the 76ers is they have a jumbo starting line up with Simmons; Richardson; Harris; Horford and Embiid. While Simmons make work for them in the regular season (we see Philly as the #2 seed in the East), he may not fit in the playoffs if he is relegated to the dunker spot as he was this year (that part of the court could be full with Horford and Embiid). The 76ers love Simmons upside (they offered him the max they could this summer) but we are not convinced he is a good fit for this jumbo 76ers roster and trading him now could yield a major haul.