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Thunder trading Russell Westbrook to Rockets for Chris Paul and draft picks

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Russell Westbrook reacts after making a basket against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
(Cooper Neill / TNS)

The Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to trade former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul and two first-round draft picks, a person with knowledge of the situation told the Los Angeles Times.

The Thunder will receive the Rockets’ first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 and the two teams will swap picks in 2021 and 2025.

The deal reunites Westbrook and James Harden, who played three seasons together on the Thunder from 2009-12.

“We’re excited to have Russell Westbrook,” Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said in a statement. “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.

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“Chris Paul is unbelievable and he’s gonna be sadly missed.”

The deal marks the fourth blockbuster trade since the start of NBA free agency. The Lakers acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans and the Clippers landed Paul George from Oklahoma City in a deal that also helped them sign Kawhi Leonard. Kevin Durant went from Golden State to Brooklyn.

Westbrook, 30, has averaged 23 points per game over his 11-year career in Oklahoma City following two years at UCLA. Westbrook, who was named the league’s MVP at the end of the 2016-17 season, is owed $171 million over the next four years.

Paul, 34, played for the Rockets the last two seasons, helping them finish first in the Western Conference in 2018 before losing to the Golden State Warriors in the conference finals. Paul, who played six seasons with the Clippers before being traded to the Rockets in June 2017, has averaged 18.5 points a game and is owed close to $125 million over the remaining three years of his contract.

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Houston lost in the conference semifinals to the Warriors last season, but the addition of Westbrook gives the Rockets one of the NBA’s most potent scoring tandems. Harden is the league’s two-time reigning scoring champion, averaging 36.1 points a game last season.

Westbrook and Harden last played together on the Thunder at the end of the 2011-12 season when Oklahoma City fell to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

Paul joins a Thunder team that will have its focus clearly on the future. The Thunder acquired seven first-round picks from the two trades, and are the only NBA team with first-round picks in the next five drafts.


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