Oklahoma City Thunder has finalized the job of parting ways with the All-Star part of their roster this offseason. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Thunder traded 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook to Houston Rockets in exchange for guard Chris Paul.
Wojnarowski reports that the deal also includes Rockets sending two first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, both protected from No.1 to No.4, as part of the deal. OKC will also have the opportunity to swap picks with Houston in 2021 and 2025.
Thunder isn’t expected to keep Paul on their roster, and will probably re-direct him to another team before the trade deadline concludes.
Although the teams haven’t officially announced the trade, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta confirmed to Houston’s Fox 26 that Westbrook is coming to town.
“We’re excited to have Russell Westbrook,” – said Fertitta. “I would watch him play for Oklahoma City, and he’s so athletic. At the same time, this franchise just had the two years with the most wins it’s ever had in consecutive years, and we wouldn’t have accomplished that without Chris Paul. Chris Paul is unbelievable, and he’s gonna be sadly missed.”
Ever since Thunder traded All-NBA forward Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for a monster haul of picks, Westbrook and Thunder’ general manager Sam Presti worked together in order to figure out their next step. Both sides ended up “welcoming” the idea that Westbrook gets traded and Presti was willing to hear out the player’s wishes about his next destination as a way to thank him for his contribution to the franchise.
Although Thunder would certainly be able to get a better package from some other team, Presti orchestrated the trade with Houston Rockets which will reunite Russell Westbrook with his former teammate James Harden. Both Westbrook and Harden discussed the possibility of playing together in the past few days and were enthusiastic about teaming up.