What Magic Johnson Said About Russell Westbrook Trade to Wizards

Magic Johnson has tipped the Washington Wizards to become a force in the Eastern Conference after acquiring Russell Westbrook from the Houston Rockets in a blockbuster trade on Wednesday in exchange for John Wall and a lottery-protected first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

The first-round pick involved in the trade is lottery-protected for Washington in 2023. According to ESPN, should it not convey, the pick would be top-12 protected in 2024, top-10 protected in the following year and top-eight protected in 2026.

If it hasn't resulted in a first-round pick by then, it will become a second-round selection in both the 2026 and 2027 NBA Drafts.

The Wizards last made the playoffs in 2018, losing in six games against the Toronto Raptors in the first round. The Achilles and knee injuries that have sidelined Wall since December 26, 2018 played a major role in frustrating Washington's postseason quests over the last two years.

Magic, however, believes they are ready to "terrorize the East" after pairing Westbrook, a nine-time All-Star, with Bradley Beal.

"Everyone now has to watch out for the Wizards! They traded for Russell Westbrook today," the five-time NBA champion tweeted on Wednesday night. "Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal will terrorize the East and make the Wizards a playoff team."

Everyone now has to watch out for the Wizards! They traded for Russell Westbrook today. A @russwest44/@RealDealBeal23 will terrorize the East and make the Wizards a playoff team.

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) December 3, 2020

The trade brings Westbrook's spell in Houston to an end after just one season, during which he averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7 assists in 35.9 minutes on the court, while shooting a career-best 47.2 percent from the field.

The fourth-overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft arrived in Texas in the summer of 2019 as part of a blockbuster trade that took Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Rockets' hopes that pairing Westbrook with James Harden would deliver an NBA title were never fulfilled as Houston lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in the Western Conference semifinals in September.

Last month, Westbrook told the Rockets he wanted to be traded as he sought to reclaim the "floor-general" role he held during his 11 seasons with the Thunder.

Houston obliged, sending Westbrook and the $133 million he has left on his deal over the next three seasons to Washington in exchange for Wall's similarly onerous contract—the five-time All-Star is owed $132 million over the next three seasons.

Whether Westbrook, the 2017 MVP, will be allowed to be more ball-dominant than he was in Houston, remains to be seen. Beal is arguably more willing to leave the ball in someone else's hands than Harden, but that doesn't mean he will leave Westbrook in complete control.

Last season Beal averaged more field goals per 100 possessions than Harden—13.5 to 12.5—and fewer assists per 36 minutes—6.1 to 7.4.

Aside from Beal, in Washington Westbrook will be surrounded by a young supporting cast.

The Wizards recently signed Davis Bertans to a five-year deal worth $80 million after the Latvian established himself as one the best three-point shooters in the NBA, shooting 42.4 percent from long range, while averaging 15.4 points, 4.5 assists and 1.7 rebounds per game.

Washington will also hope Deni Avdija, Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Jerome Robinson and Moe Wagner can all develop into solid players.

Westbrook will also be reunited with Scott Brooks, who coached him during his first seven seasons at Oklahoma, reaching the playoffs in five consecutive years between 2010 and 2014.

Those playoff runs included a trip to the NBA Finals in 2012, when the Thunder lost in six games to the Miami Heat, and Western Conference Finals appearances against the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 and the San Antonio Spurs in 2014—Oklahoma lost to the Mavericks 4-1 and to the Spurs in six games.

Russell Westbrook, Houston Rockets
Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets moves the ball against the Milwaukee Bucks at The Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 2 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Westbrook was traded to the Washington Wizards on December 2. Mike Ehrmann/Getty