By Sam Quinn 46 mins ago1 min read
The Houston Rockets are trading Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for John Wall and a 2023 protected first-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Westbrook requested a trade earlier this offseason, and fellow Rockets star James Harden did so as well. This came after the Rockets moved on from coach Mike D’Antoni while allowing general manager Daryl Morey to resign and take over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Harden’s trade request was based on a desire to join his former teammate Kevin Durant with the Brooklyn Nets, whereas Westbrook wanted a chance to be a true floor general and primary ball-handler again. In Washington, he should get that chance. While he will be playing alongside another star guard in Bradley Beal, Beal’s excellent shooting and off-ball movement should make the two one of the NBA‘s better offensive backcourts and help launch the Wizards back into contention for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
That has been Washington’s goal this offseason as Beal’s free agency looms in 2022. The Wizards got Beal to agree to a one-year extension last offseason, but historically speaking, teams don’t retain superstars without winning at a high level. Adding Westbrook, a Third-Team All-NBA selection last year, should be a step in that direction for the Wizards.
The Rockets, meanwhile, are taking an enormous risk on Wall. He and Westbrook have virtually identical supermax contracts: three years and around $132 million remaining. But Wall is coming off of a torn Achilles tendon, one of the worst injuries in all of basketball. Considering his preexisting injury issues, there is no telling how valuable he’ll be upon his return, how durable he will remain, or how he will adapt to joining a new team.
But the Rockets, desperate for long-term assets after giving up two first-round picks and two swaps to get Westbrook last offseason, have now added three first-round picks this offseason. They still have to deal with Harden’s trade request and an unsettled roster, but at the very least, they’ve managed to restock the cupboard a bit ahead of what is increasingly looking like an inevitable rebuild. The Wizards, meanwhile, have managed to stave off rebuilding for a little while longer by adding Westbrook.
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