The Rockets, ever since Daryl Morey stepped down as GM have been looking for trades for their 2 star players; James Harden and Russell Westbrook. The Rockets found a trade partner for Westbrook, that team being the Wizards. The Wizards and Rockets came to a deal that sent Westbrook to Washington in exchange for John Wall and a lottery protected 2023 first round pick back to Houston. On the surface, it might not look too bad, and that's what I'm going to get into now.
For the Wizards, you might think that this is a trade they clearly won, getting back a former MVP in Russell Westbrook, for a guy who hasn't played an NBA game since December 26 of 2018, almost 2 years. Not so fast. Russell Westbrook was forced to play with the most ball dominant player besides himself, in James Harden. With playing with Harden, you would think Westbrook's shot attempts go down, but instead they were the 2nd highest of his career. Westbrook shot a career best from the field, on 22.5 attempts, shooting a clip of 47%, but shot his worst from 3 since his 2nd NBA season, at a mere 26%. Westbrook is a guy that needs the ball in his hands to be good, unlike a guy like Steph Curry who can move around without the ball and still be able to create his shot or get a look he wants, simply by moving around, which is something Westbrook can't do. Westbrook also turns the ball over at such a high rate, averaging 4.5 last season, and 4.1 throughout his career. Westbrook did average 7 assists, to his 4.5 turnovers, which comes out to a 1.56 assist to turnover ratio, which means for every 1.56 assist from Westbrook, he turns it over, which is very bad simply put. I don't think Westbrook and Beal won't fit together, because Beal was the team's main ball handler, and averaged 30.5 points, while having the best year of his career. With bringing in Westbrook, Beal will be asked to go back into his old role of being the 2nd option, to Westbrook and be taken a backseat to him.
Now for the Rockets. The Rockets wanted to trade 1 of, if not both of their stars, so in that sense they got what they wanted. However, I feel they could've gotten more for Russ than a 30 year old PG that hasn't played in 2 years, coming off of an achilles rupture. Wall has stated that he is "110%", and is ready to get back going. Wall in his prime was a top 3-5 PG in the NBA. The Rockets were going to be a playoff team with or without this trade, but I think that they could end up being worse. We all know what James Harden is going to do, he's the best SG in the league. Demarcus Cousins and John Wall both haven't played a lot of basketball in the past 2 years in the NBA, with Cousins tearing his achilles in the 2017-2018 season with the Pelicans, which held him to just 30 games the following season. Then, Cousins tore his ACL in his left knee, and was released by the Lakers last season after not appearing in a single game. The Rockets have the potential to be a top team in the West, but they've put their success in the arms of John Wall and Demarcus Cousins ability to stay healthy, and hope that they can return to their All Star form, and push the Rockets over the hump.
I think both of these teams will make the playoffs, with the Wizards in as a 6-8 seed, and the Rockets in as a 4-6 seed. Both have the ability to be higher, and could very well miss the playoffs. In the Wizards case, they lack depth at the big positions, having Thomas Bryant and Robin Lopez at C, and Rui Hachimura as an undersized PF. The Wizards did draft Deni Avdija who I think will be one of the best players out of the class. For the Rockets, again, it'll depend on if Wall and Cousins can stay healthy, and when they are, if they will be able to perform like they did in the past.
This trade just makes it clearer and clearer that the NBA is a business, with Wall who's given everything he's had to DC, just to be shipped out, similar to what the Celtics did with Isiah Thomas. I see no clear winner, but for right now it's the Wizards. The Wizards were probably not going to make the playoffs with the current star power they had, and now with Westbrook it makes them a playoff team, and a potential team to upset one of the top 4 teams in the East.