Sources — OKC trades Russ to Rockets for Paul


The Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to a blockbuster commerce that may ship Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets, the place he’ll be reunited with James Harden, league sources advised ESPN.

The Rockets will ship guard Chris Paul, two protected first-round picks (2024 and 2026, each protected Nos. 1-4) and two choose swaps (2021 and 2025) to the Thunder, league sources advised ESPN.

The Rockets are reuniting two former MVP guards who began their careers along with the Thunder. This was a deal Harden and Westbrook had been every captivated with, league sources stated.

Thunder normal supervisor Sam Presti labored with Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, to assist honor the star guard’s hopes of taking part in with the Rockets, league sources stated. The Thunder additionally mentioned a attainable cope with the Miami Heat, sources stated.

Presti already is working with Paul’s brokers at CAA Sports — Leon Rose and Steven Heumann — to redirect the nine-time All-Star to a brand new crew, league sources inform ESPN. The Heat are outstanding within the conversations, however there are different potentialities additionally being explored, sources stated. Presti and Rose labored collectively final yr on the same state of affairs with Carmelo Anthony.

In making the commerce, the Rockets consider that the age distinction between Paul (34) and Westbrook (30) offers them a greater probability to increase the championship window of Harden, who will flip 30 subsequent month.

“We’re excited to have Russell Westbrook,” Rockets proprietor Tilman Fertitta advised Houston’s Fox 26. “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.”

Oklahoma City has amassed eight first-round picks for the reason that June 20 NBA draft, creating a protracted recreation unseen in latest NBA historical past. With the likelihood that Oklahoma City may retain its personal 2020 choose (top-20 protected to Philadelphia) and 2022 choose (lottery protected to Atlanta), the Thunder may have 15 first-round picks and swap rights in 4 completely different seasons between 2020 and 2026.

Paul has three years, $124 million left on his contract — one yr fewer than Westbrook would have had on OKC’s books. If the Thunder preserve Paul, they’re going to have a consultant lineup that at the moment consists of him, heart Steven Adams and ahead Danilo Gallinari.

If Oklahoma City wished to incentivize a commerce for Paul, the Thunder may use a part of their huge pool of picks to facilitate a deal. Paul has some optimistic historical past with Oklahoma City, having performed there with the Hornets beginning in 2005-06, when Hurricane Katrina pressured the franchise to quickly relocate.

Caesars Sportsbook moved the Rockets’ odds to win the 2019-20 NBA title from 10-1 to 7-1, behind solely the Los Angeles Lakers (7-2), LA Clippers (4-1) and Milwaukee Bucks (9-2).

“I said at the end of the year, ‘We’re never gonna stand pat,'” Fertitta stated. “We’re all the time gonna attempt to get higher. I feel this makes us a greater crew. I hate to lose Chris Paul, however we felt like we did what we needed to do to turn into a greater crew.

“I think it’ll be very interesting and fun. James and Russell wanted to play together. It ought to be fun this year.”

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Rockets reporter Tim MacMahon shares why the Rockets agreed to commerce Chris Paul to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook and Harden would be the fourth pair of teammates to play collectively after every profitable an MVP award throughout the earlier three seasons, per Elias Sports Bureau analysis.

Westbrook has 4 years and $171 million remaining on his contract, with a participant choice within the remaining yr of his deal set to pay him $47 million ought to he choose in.

After Paul George‘s commerce to the Clippers, Westbrook and Foucher labored with the Thunder to search out an agreeable path ahead on Westbrook’s future with the franchise. With free company successfully concluded, and Westbrook’s record of most popular locations extraordinarily brief, the timing made commerce negotiations sophisticated.

Still, the Thunder wished to accommodate Westbrook’s needs as a lot as attainable, together with his at the start want to reunite with Harden in Houston, whereas additionally discovering a commerce that match OKC’s goal of rebuilding.

Drafted fourth total by the Thunder (then the Seattle SuperSonics) in 2008, Westbrook leaves because the franchise’s all-time chief in factors (18,859); second in assists (6,897); third in rebounds (5,760) and steals (1,442); and fourth in video games performed (821). In the Oklahoma City period, Westbrook ranks first throughout the board.

Westbrook received the MVP in 2016-17, making NBA historical past as the primary participant since Oscar Robertson in 1962 to common a triple-double. He broke Robertson’s mark of triple-doubles in a season with 42, after which went on to common a triple-double in two extra seasons. Westbrook ranks tied for second all time with Magic Johnson at 138 profession triple-doubles, behind solely Robertson (181).

Westbrook is one in all simply 10 gamers in NBA historical past to file 15,000 factors, 5,000 rebounds and 5,000 assists with a single franchise, seven of whom are within the Hall of Fame. The remaining two are Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

Since Westbrook was drafted by OKC, solely the Spurs (613) and Rockets (541) have extra wins than the Thunder (538). Westbrook was a part of a historic run of picks by the Thunder, as the one crew in NBA historical past to pick out three consecutive future MVPs (Kevin Durant, Westbrook and Harden). Since Westbrook’s debut, the Thunder are the one crew to have three completely different gamers end within the high three of MVP voting (Durant, Westbrook and George). OKC has had 16 All-NBA choices since 2009, essentially the most within the NBA in that span.

The Thunder made the playoffs in every of Westbrook and Harden’s three seasons collectively, going from the 8-seed in 2009-10 to No. Four in 2010-11 to No. 2 in 2011-12. They reached the NBA Finals of their remaining season, shedding in 5 video games to Miami, earlier than Oklahoma City traded Harden to Houston that October.

Westbrook will probably be perpetually linked to the Thunder because the face of the franchise, pledging his loyalty to the group within the wake of Durant’s departure to the Golden State Warriors in 2016. Westbrook re-upped with OKC, stabilizing the roster and offering a path ahead, after which signed a five-year extension in 2017, on the time the biggest contract in NBA historical past.

He appeared at a beforehand scheduled stand-up comedy occasion in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Thursday evening, shortly after information of the commerce unfold, however didn’t communicate to the assembled media.

Information from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne was used on this report.



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