So I thought of a trade which I believe could help both the Miwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets going into next season. Mike D’Antoni won’t be back for the Houston Rockets and no one knows who will coach James Harden in Houston next season but I do think they should look to trade for Khris Middleton even if it costs them Russell Westbrook. I won’t be critical about Russell Westbrook’s performance in the bubble but the fit alongside James Harden was non-existent all year long. Yes they put up big numbers playing together but Russell Westbrook ultimately took the ball away from James Harden in the series against the Los Angeles Lakers leaving James Harden feeling a lot like Kevin Durant did in Oklahoma City prior to leaving for Golden State. I admire Russell Westbrook’s competitive drive and even though he was erratic for the most part against the Lakers I do think he can help the Milwaukee Bucks get over the top next season. Westbrook was looking to capture a title this season with the Rockets and everyone felt a re-union with former teammate James Harden would’ve spelled a championship this season but in my honest opinion the personnel was never there, I don’t think Westbrook saw himself as inferior to James Harden in Houston as a player.
On the Milwaukee Bucks Russell Westbrook will not have to worry about sharing ball handling duties at the top the arc like he had to with Kevin Durant,Paul George,Carmelo Anthony,and James Harden. Giannis Antetokoumpo is unlike the 4 wings I just mentioned and does a lot of his damage in the paint and on the low-block. Yes Giannis does charge the basket from the top of the key but if he had a play-maker who could set him up on pick and rolls and pops he would play more to his strengths. Giannis is an easy lob-target and Westbrook has the play-making ability to get him the ball where-ever he pleases. Watching the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs it was clear how much they lacked a reliable play-maker beyond Giannis, they had him in Malcolm Brogdon but they became cheap and let him go to the Indiana Pacers. As for Eric Bledsoe he can either humble himself to take a 6th man role for the Milwaukee Bucks next season if Russell Westbrook comes over or the Bucks could look to trade him away with a draft pick to upgrade their bench. Giannis will need a running mate next season with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant set to return for the Brooklyn Nets next season. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown look primed for some future title runs in Boston as well so the Milwakee Bucks would do right to make a bold move for Westbrook.
As for the Houston Rockets Khris Middleton was impressive leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a shocking win without Giannis Antetokoumpo who suffered from injury. Khris Middleton pumped in 36 points in that game and silenced anyone who thought the Bucks were nothing without Giannis, it would be odd to see him moved being that he signed a 5-year $178 million dollar extension with the Bucks not too long ago but we’ve been seeing Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokoumpo for over 4-5 years now and they just can’t seem to get very far. I think Khris Middleton would be more settled in on the Houston Rockets and in this trade the Houston Rockets will also receive George Hill who could fill in as the starting point guard next season. George Hill can run an offense and play solid defense and most importantly he’ll allow for James Harden to have more control of the basketball. I don’t think the Houston Rockets ever need two ball dominant guards in the back-court even when Harden played with Paul it became a power struggle between the two when it came to who would handle the ball in clutch moments. A James Harden-Khris Middleton duo makes more sense since Khris Middleton does a majority of his work off-the ball and James Harden will only alleviate him from having to be a secondary play-maker on the floor as he was tasked on the Milwaukee Bucks this past-season.
I am not sure who will be coaching in Houston next season but judging on what I’ve seen from James Harden and Khris Middleton through their respective careers I feel Harden would be best suited playing alongside players who fit around his skill-set. James Harden was able to lead the Houston Rockets to the Conference Finals with Patrick Beverley at the point guard position who helped take the tougher assignment in the back-court allowing for Harden to expend a lot of his energy on the offensive end. The Rockets felt they needed someone who could help Harden run the offense so they went and got Chris Paul and they almost made the Finals hadn’t it been for injuries, what changed for the Rockets was they never re-signed Trevor Ariza who does a lot of Khris Middleton will be able to do for the Rockets. Middleton can guard 1 through 3 fairly easy and is a knock-down shooter for Harden to work with. So the Rockets get back defense and shooting in Middleton and Hill and would remain contenders in the Western Conference next season.
To conclude I believe this trade keeps both teams in the running for the title next season. I think about the Golden State Warriors because they were able to contend for years with 1 superstar(Stephen Curry),a compatible co-star(Klay Thompson), and a borderline all-star in Draymmond Green. The Houston Rockets would have a similar order, James Harden being the 1 superstar, Khris Middleton the compatible co-star, and PJ Tucker who is very similar to Draymmond Green in what he brings to the court as a defender,play-maker,and competitor who does the small things which don’t pop up on a box score. As for the Milwaukee Bucks, Russell Westbrook is quickly developing the label of a loser and him coming into Milwaukee with a chip on his shoulder would only bode well for the Bucks. I think if Bucks management manages to bring Westbrook to Milwaukee Giannis will sign a super-max. I’ve seen enough of Giannis to believe he will be the Kevin Garnett of this era, a big man that can dominate the boards and play defense at an elite level as a shot-blocker and pass deflector. I think Giannis needs to play with a wing who opposing teams will have to game plan for and that is Russell Westbrook. Giannis will allow Westbrook to be exactly who he is and he won’t have to defer, give me your thoughts on this trade and till next time.