Russell Westbrook has finally been granted the exit he wanted for so long with the Houston Rockets agreeing on a trade deal for him. In the deal, the Rockets would be offloading Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for John Wall and a potential first pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the draft pick is lottery protected for the year 2023. The pick, if not conveyed by the year 2026, could potentially reduce to two second-rounders in the end. Moreover, the sources also claim that the two franchises have been hard at talks for the past two weeks regarding a potential swap deal.
Sources: Protection on the first-round pick that the Wizards traded to Houston in Russell Westbrook/John Wall trade: 2023, Lottery; 2024, Top 12; 2025, Top 10; 2026, Top 8; then becomes two second-rounders.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 3, 2020
The General Managers of both parties had not been in contact for the duration of the talks, but once Washington’s Tommy Sheppard and Houston’s Rafael Stone got in touch during the negotiations, the deal was reportedly completed in a matter of hours.
The two GM's — Washington's Tommy Sheppard and Houston's Rafael Stone — hadn't talked in weeks on the deal, but connected this afternoon and had a deal done within a few hours, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/qmuPclNoU5
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 3, 2020
With the Westbrook trade done, all eyes on James Harden now
Westbrook had been vying for a move following their exit from the NBA Playoffs which led to the departure of the former president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and coach Mike D’Antoni.
The 9-time all-star had arrived from Oklahoma City Thunder last July with Rockets offering Chris Paul, first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025 as part of the swap deal.
Westbrook desired more of the control with the franchise on and off the court, as he had with the Thunder. But in the presence of James Harden in the setup, that was hard to achieve.
John Wall, on the other hand, was the No.1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft but is yet to play an NBA game in almost 2 years. Back-to-back injuries struck the 30-year-old who has been part of the Washington Wizards setup for the entire decade. After injuring his bone heel in his left heel in 2018-19, he proceeded to rupture his left Achilles tendon during rehab which resulted in another lengthy lay-off period for the point guard.
Rockets source: Stance on James Harden has not changed. Houston hopes to be competitive with him this season and does not envision a scenario where Harden would be traded before the opener.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 3, 2020
The departure of Russel Westbrook brings forward the future of James Harden into the light as well. But according to the sources, Rockets plan on to stick with the player and have no intention to part ways as of yet.