Rockets Acquire Russell Westbrook

Just when you thought the NBA offseason craziness ended, it just got crazier.

The Houston Rockets acquired former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City (OKC)Thunder Thursday night in exchange for All-Star Chris Paul, Rockets will send guard Chris Paul, two protected first-round picks (2024 and 2026) and two pick swaps (2021 and 2025) to the Thunder.

Such a move reunites Westbrook with Harden, with whom he was teammates from 2009-12 in Oklahoma City, when Westbrook was developing into a top scorer and Harden was the 2012 NBA’s 6th Man of the Year. Both played with Kevin Durant to form the team’s Big Three that helped the Thunder win the Western Conference in 2012 but fell to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

Harden was the first of the Thunder’s Big Three to leave as he was traded to the Rockets in at the beginning of the 2012-13 season. In 2016, Durant left via Free Agency to join the Golden State Warriors, and now Westbrook leaves to join the Rockets. The Thunder also traded All-Star Paul George to the LA Clippers a week ago as well.

After George was traded to the Clippers, the rumors began to swirl that Westbrook wanted out of OKC and expressed an interest in playing for the Rockets. There was also talks of the Miami Heat acquiring Westbrook as well.

The Rockets now have 2 of the past 3 NBA MVP’s with Westbrook winning in 2017 and Harden in 2018. Westbrook also gives the Rockets a true Triple-Double threat as he became the first players since Oscar Robinson in 1965 to average a Triple-Double when he did so in 2016-17, and then he did it again in 2017-18 as well as last season after averaging 22.9 points/game, 11.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists.

This trade keeps strengthens the Rockets chances for a championship in the heavily competitive Western Conference. After falling to the Warriors in the postseason, the Rockets vowed that they would make changes and that no one was exempt from getting dealt. Meanwhile, the Thunder has now lost another All-Star and could be in danger in missing the playoffs after earning a trip to the postseason the last several years.

The 34-year old Paul could either play for the Thunder, could be bought out or get traded. If he remains with the Thunder, Paul will have defensive specialist Steven Adams and F Danilo Gallinari as fellow starters.

Notes: Restricted free agent Kelly Oubre Jr. has agreed to a two-year, $30 million deal to stay with the Phoenix Suns.

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