Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Rockets' Updated Roster After Chris Paul Trade

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 9: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets drives past Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder on April 9, 2019 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jeff Haynes/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are shaking their roster up by reportedly acquiring 2016-17 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook in exchange for nine-time All-Star Chris Paul in a blockbuster trade on Thursday night. 

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news, noting OKC would also be receiving first-rounders in 2024 and 2026 as well as the right to swap picks in 2021 and 2025. According to Wojnarowski, reuniting with former Thunder teammate James Harden in Houston was Westbrook's preferred resolution.

Here's a look at the Rockets' updated roster following the trade:

    

Guards

James Harden 

Russell Westbrook

Eric Gordon

Gerald Green

Austin Rivers

Iman Shumpert

Shamorie Ponds

Chris Chiozza

Chris Clemons

Trevon Duval

Michael Frazier

  

Forwards

Kenneth Faried

PJ Tucker

Gary Clark

Vincent Edwards

Isaiah Hartenstein

Danuel House Jr. 

  

Center

Clint Capela

Deyonta Davis

   

Houston was one of the top contenders in the NBA  with the combination of Paul and Harden, averaging 59 victories over the last two seasons. The team came within one game of the NBA Finals in 2018.

Following the Rockets' second-round exit to the Golden State Warriors in May, though, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports reported that the relationship between Paul and Harden had become "unsalvageable," with the former requesting a trade. Paul denied that report, and Houston general manager Daryl Morey made it clear last month that the point guard was not on the trading block.

However, as Westbrook became available in the wake of the Paul George trade, Morey apparently decided to make a change.

Adding Westbrook into Mike D'Antoni's system could prove to be seamless as Westbrook and Harden spent three seasons together with the Thunder. The two played a key role in the franchise's early success in Oklahoma City, reaching the NBA Finals in 2012.

Of course, OKC Harden and Houston Harden are two different players. Harden averaged 12.7 points per game while coming off the bench for the Thunder; he has averaged 29.0 points in seven seasons for the Rockets, posting a career-high 36.1 ppg last season.

Bringing in Westbrook gives Houston two of the last three NBA MVPs on the same roster. A walking triple-double, Westbrook should help keep Harden's usage rate (39.6 percent in 2018-19) within reason.

The Harden-Westbrook duo will likely dominate the ball on offense, but there should be plenty of catch-and-shoot opportunities for Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker and others on the outside.

As things presently stand, Houston has no shortage of backcourt options. It will be up to Morey and Co. to figure out which of their options will best complement Harden and Westbrook.

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