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Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook interacts with the crowd during the first half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Sunday, April 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)

Thunder Trade Westbrook to the Rockets

Houston, we have a reunion. After a week of speculation, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded franchise star Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets. In return, the Thunder receive point guard Chris Paul, two first round draft picks and two first round pick swaps. This trade reunites Westbrook with guard James Harden, who played with Westbrook in Oklahoma City from 2009-12.

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Reunited

When the deal to send Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers happened, Westbrook wanted to reunite with Harden, his former teammate and fellow MVP winner. This put Houston into the driver’s seat to acquire Westbrook.

The two were part of one of the most talented teams in recent NBA history. During Harden’s three years in Oklahoma City, the Thunder also had stars such as Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. The 2011-12 Thunder made it to the NBA Finals, but lost to the Miami Heat in five games. Harden won Sixth Man of the Year in 2012 before being traded to Houston. With the Rockets, he became one of the most perennial scorers in the game. He would eventually win the league’s MVP in 2018.

One year earlier, Westbrook had an unbelievable MVP season. With the departure of Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook was racking up triple-doubles on a nightly basis. He broke Oscar Robinson’s record of most triple-doubles in a season.

Both Harden and Westbrook have improved drastically since they were on the Thunder together. With Houston having two of the past three MVP winners on its roster, the sky is the limit for the Rockets.

Future of Chris Paul

With Westbrook destination decided, now the question becomes: where does Chris Paul land? Given the direction of the Thunder organization, it’s unlikely the nine-time All-Star stays in Oklahoma City. The Thunder are a team in rebuilding, acquiring a seven first round draft picks through 2026 in trading both Westbrook and George. Paul is a player for a team ready to win now. Paul’s astronomically large contract is seen as a deterrent to many teams, given his age and not being able to make it through an entire season. Paul has missed 69 games the last three seasons. He hasn’t played an entire season since 2014-15.

One team rumored for Chris Paul has been the Miami Heat. For the past week, the Heat were considered the front runners to land Westbrook. However, it’s being reported the deal fell through because Miami was unwilling to give up two of their three young players: Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo and first round selection Tyler Herro.

Reaction

The news of this blockbuster trade spread like wildfire throughout the sports world. Much of the reaction was about the same, saying the NBA is “crazy.”

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About Zach Oliveri

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