Report: Russell Westbrook traded to Rockets for Chris Paul
NBA.com Global on Jul 12, 2019 08:36 AM
FILE - LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 8: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder gets pumped up before the game against the LA Clippers on March 8, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
NBA.com staff report
Per a report by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young, the Houston Rockets have acquired Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder for Chris Paul and a package of first-round picks and pick swaps.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to trade Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul, first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, pick swaps in 2021 and 2025, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 12, 2019
The Rockets were Westbrook’s preferred destination basically from the beginning of this process. Other teams were only lightly considered.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) July 12, 2019
Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti worked with Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, to deliver the former MVP to his preferred destination: A reunion with James Harden, per sources.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 12, 2019
Shams Charania of The Athletic subsequently broke down the protections:
Sources: Pick protections in Thunder/Rockets, Russell Westbrook/Chris Paul trade:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 12, 2019
2024 first round pick, protected 1-4
2026 first round pick, protected 1-4
2025 swap, 1-20 protected
2021 swap, protected 1-4 -- OKC can swap Clippers pick or Heat pick.
Westbrook, the only remaining player from the Thunder's first season in Oklahoma City after the franchise moved from Seattle in 2008, earned All-NBA Third Team recognition after logging his third consecutive season averaging a triple-double (this time: 22.9 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 10.7 apg). The 11-year veteran struggled with his shooting throughout, connecting on just 29.8 percent of his 3-point attempts and 42.8% overall, along with a career-worst 65.6 percent from the line.
Given Westbrook's usage has soared in the years since Kevin Durant's departure to Golden State, the fit next to Harden will force both players to adjust. Harden's historic 2018-19 campaign included an exhilarating 32-game streak of 30-point games and the league's highest scoring average (36.1 ppg) since Michael Jordan put up 37.1 in 1986-87. The two players each ranked among the league's top four in touches per game and time of possession, as well as top 10 marks in average seconds per touch.
Meanwhile, Paul dealt with his own struggles this season in Houston, his second with the Rockets following a six-year run with the "Lob City" Clippers. Shooting a career-low 41.9 percent overall, Paul played in just 58 games for a second-straight season, recording his lowest usage rate (22.0) since 2012-13 while posting a career-high turnover ratio of 10.8 per 100 possessions.
In the wake of Houston's second-round exit -- yet again at the hands of the Warriors -- reports began to circulate that Paul and Harden's relationship had frayed, culminating in a trade demand by Paul. Though denied aggressively by Paul and Rockets GM Daryl Morey at the time, Paul is on the move and Harden reportedly pushed for the deal once Westbrook's availability -- and interest in Houston -- became known.