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The Lakers guard, Quinn Cook, thought the Warriors wanted him back next season



Insofar as it involves two stars destined for the Hall of Fame and appearing on perennial playoff teams, the exchange with Russell Westbrook that goes to Houston and Chris Paul to Oklahoma City is, on paper, a significant magnitude.

As in, wow, quite the box office success. The NBA does it again. This league is still burning.

But after removing the appearance of gravity that comes with the marquee names, it's fair to question whether there are really many consequences for such an agreement, reported for the first time by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. And it is reasonable to conclude that it is not.

Which means that, for the Warriors and other contenders of the Western Conference, the balance of power remains basically where it was before the exchange.

Both Paul and Westbrook have given all indications of having exceeded their peaks, even if the vanity does not allow acceptance.

The Thunder won in Paul, a man whose first moment spanned his last four seasons with the New Orleans Hornets (2007-11) and the first four with the Los Angeles Clippers (2011-15). Highly maintenance and often moody, CP3 was, during most of those seasons, the best point guard in the NBA.

He also played all 82 games in 2014-15, but since then he averaged 63, totals over the last four seasons decreased from 74 to 61 to 58 and 58. You can not expect that trend to reverse.

Also keep in mind that Paul was the "leader" of the talented Clippers teams under Doc Rivers that never advanced beyond the second round, the worst being the epic collapse in 2015, when they ruined a game from three games to one . Lead Houston in the semifinals of the Western Conference.

Obtaining Paul at this stage of his career is, for OKC, primarily engaging two more first-round picks (2024 and 2026) at a time when James Harden and Westbrook will be in their mid and late 30s, if is that they are in Houston list at all.

The Thunder win the deal because they get those picks while they get rid of Westbrook, who is owed approximately $ 170 million over the next four seasons, while Paul has a signature of about $ 125 in the next three. Paul will be easier to move, if he comes to that, as he probably will.

OKC takes another step towards a reconstruction that began a few days ago with the mass transportation received in the exchange of Paul George to the Clippers. The Thunder has been a first round in the three seasons since Kevin Durant left in 2016 and now the playoffs are out of sight.

The Rockets can now discover, once again, how to get the most out of two dominant players on the ball. The Harden-Paul duo was not a huge success, and it's hard to imagine that the Harden-Westbrook duo will be much more prosperous.

There was a time when Harden and Westbrook were a devastating combination, two basketball outlaws who, along with Kevin Durant, seemed to be able to own the NBA for the next five or six seasons. That core, along with the young Serge Ibaka, brought the Thunder to the NBA Finals.

That was in 2012, when the three were under 24 years old and simply were not ready for the experience and the cruelty of the Miami Heat team with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The thunder lost in five and has not returned.

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The Rockets expect Harden-Westbrook to be better than Harden-Paul, and should be. Westbrook can do more things, more effectively, than Paul. Russ can take charge of a game, accumulating statistics that Paul can imagine accumulating.

But the needle that registers the chances of Houston winning a championship barely yields to this agreement. The Rockets are still a playoff team, since they probably would have been with Paul, with the possibility of winning a place in the seeding.

The only thing we know for sure is that the Rockets will be more fun to watch, for good and bad reasons, than the Thunder. And the central office at OKC will not mind at all.


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