New York - Russell Westbrook has been traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to
the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul and two first-round NBA draft picks,
according to multiple reports Thursday.
The Houston Chronicle and ESPN, each citing unnamed sources, reported
the agreement, the latest blockbuster move in an NBA off-season of
major relocations for NBA stars and huge lineup changes for many clubs.
Eight-time All-Star Westbrook, the 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player,
will be reunited with 2018 NBA MVP James Harden, his former Thunder
teammate who was traded to the Rockets in 2012.
Harden and Westbrook had wanted to reunite the backcourt tandem they enjoyed for three seasons with the Thunder.
"It'll be very interesting and fun," Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta
told Houston's Fox 26 TV. "James and Russell wanted to play together.
"I said at the end of the year we're never going to stand pat. We're
always going to try to get better. I think this makes us a better team. I
hate to lose Chris Paul, but we felt like we did what we had to do to
become a better team."
Paul, who at age 34 could be looking at yet another trade deal,
according to reports, joins a rebuilding Thunder squad along with
Houston's first-round NBA Draft selections in 2024 and 2026 as well as
the right for the Thunder to swap first-round picks with the Rockets in
2021 and 2025.
Harden has led the NBA in scoring the past two seasons, averaging 36.1 points a game this past campaign.
Westbrook has averaged triple doubles for the past three seasons,
this past campaign producing 22.9 points and career highs of 11.1
rebounds and 10.7 assists.
Together, Harden, 29, and Westbrook, 30, form a super pairing as
potent as any in the Western Conference, which now includes last month's
NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and ex-Thunder star Paul George with the
Los Angeles Clippers, plus LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Los
Add improved teams in Denver, Utah and Portland and Stephen Curry-led
Golden State -- NBA finalists the past five years -- and the Western
Conference next season figures to be up for grabs after years of
dominance by the Warriors.
Oddsmakers like Rockets
in Las Vegas improved the odds of the Rockets winning next year's NBA
title from 10-1 to 7-1, putting Houston fourth behind the Lakers (7-2),
Clippers (4-1) and Milwaukee Bucks (9-2).
The first major off-season move came June 30 when Golden State's
Kevin Durant and Boston's Kyrie Irving both signed with Brooklyn.
The next blockbuster came when the Clippers sent five first-round
picks and two players to Oklahoma City for George, which enabled them to
win a three-team pursuit for Leonard, who departed Toronto after
leading the Raptors to an NBA crown.
Oklahoma City has added eight first-round draft picks and four pick
swaps through 2026 in the haul from the Rockets and Clippers. Combined
with its own selections this will enable the Thunder to quickly rebuild,
plus use some picks in deals to land veteran talent with plenty to
Westbrook has four years at $171 million remaining on his contract. Paul has three years at $124 million remaining on his deal.
The Thunder reached the playoffs in all three seasons with Harden and
Westbrook in the backcourt, taking eighth in the West in 2010, fourth
in 2011 and second in 2012, when Oklahoma City lost to James-led Miami
in the NBA Finals.