Rockets trade Russell Westbrook, won’t trade James Harden
98.5 The Sports Hub staff report
Russell Westbrook’s wish to leave Houston after just one season was granted Wednesday night, as the Rockets traded him to the Washington Wizards for John Wall and a future first-round pick.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the trade, and provided additional details on the pick’s protections.
“The 2023 first-round pick is lottery protected for the Wizards,” Woj wrote. “If it doesn’t convey in that year, it has a succession of protections that include picks Nos. 1-12 in 2024, picks 1-10 in 2025 and picks 1-8 in 2026, sources said. If it hasn’t conveyed as a first-round pick to Houston by 2026, it becomes a second-round pick in each of 2026 and 2027, sources told ESPN.”
The 32-year-old Westbrook, traded from Oklahoma City to Houston prior to the 2019-20 season, averaged 27.2 points per game (his third-highest season average and best since 2016-17), and shot a career-best 47.2 percent from the field during his 57-game run as James Harden’s 1B.
Westbrook, a member of the All-NBA Third Team last season (and with nine All-NBA team honors in his career), has three years and over $130 million remaining on his current contract.
Wall, meanwhile, hasn’t played in an NBA game since Dec. 26, 2018 due to an Achilles tendon and knee injury.
Prior to his injury struggles, Wall was undoubtedly one of the best guards in the NBA, averaging a career-best 23.1 points and 10.7 assists per game, along with a career-best 45.1 field goal percentage, during the 2016-17 season. Like Westbrook, the 30-year-old Wall has over $130 million due over the final three years of his current contract.
And though the Rockets found a suitable trade partner for Westbrook, it doesn’t appear that they are ready to do the same and trade away Harden, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
“Stance on James Harden has not changed,” a team source told MacMahon. “Houston hopes to be competitive with him this season and does not envision a scenario where Harden would be traded before the opener.”
It was believed that Harden, who had drawn interest from the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics (depending on who you asked, anyway), was trying to force a move to Brooklyn to team up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. But that move seemed by all means impossible for the Nets to swing from a financial standpoint without moving Irving or Durant, and it was also reported that Irving wasn’t all that interested in teaming up with Harden.