OKLAHOMA CITY — The cornerstone of the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise has left today. Russell Westbrook has been traded to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul, two first round picks in 2024 and 2026 as well as pick swaps in 2021 and 2025. This was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
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 Thunder’s trajectory was thrown for a loop earlier last week when Paul George’s agent Aaron Mintz approached Sam Presti to request a trade to the LA Clippers. Presti obliged George’s request late Friday night and sent the All-Star forward west in exchange for a plethora of draft picks, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari.
With the trade, Oklahoma City’s status as a playoff contender in the Western Conference was all but put to rest.
The following day after the trade, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Westbrook and his agent Thad Foucher were in conversations with Presti about the next moves. Those moves, according to Wojnarkowski, included the possibility of a trade.
According to Wojnarowski, Westbrook preferred Houston as a destination to be reunited with former Thunder player James Harden. The two have not played together since being eliminated in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals.
This ends an 11-year run with the Thunder — the longest period of time an active player has spent with one team. Westbrook is and will remain to be one of the most popular players in franchise history.
Westbrook was drafted fourth overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in name only during the 2008 NBA Draft. The franchise was still in the process of moving from the Pacific Northwest to Oklahoma during that offseason. Westbrook’s first game as a professional was in Oklahoma City.
The UCLA-product developed into a budding superstar along the more established Kevin Durant. As a backup to point guard Earl Thomas, Westbrook showcased his athleticism and tornado-like destruction in a reserve role for a little over a month.
November 29th, 2008 would mark the first time in his 804 starts that Westbrook would be running the point-guard with the first-string.
Westbrook leaves OKC as the franchise leader in scoring.
Brady Trantham has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for The Franchise since April 2018 and for Thunder Digest since 2016. He hosts a Thunder podcast with Madysson Morris “OKC-82 Podcast” which can be found on all podcast outlets, and is a featured co-host on the Franchise Thunder Insider’s Show on Saturdays from 10-12, in addition to weekly guest spots on “The Franchise Drive” on Tuesdays and “The Franchise Morning Show” on Wednesdays. Follow him on Twitter @BradyDoesSports