Report: Russell Westbrook traded to Rockets for Chris Paul, draft picks

Amin Touri
July 11, 2019 - 9:09 pm

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Less than a week after dealing Paul George to the Clippers for an unprecedented haul of draft picks, Thunder GM Sam Presti stockpiled even more draft picks with another blockbuster on Thursday, sending Russell Westbrook to the Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul, two future first-round picks and two pick swaps, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

With Oklahoma City moving George, the team was clearly not planning to contend, setting an expiration date for Westbrook’s time with the franchise, as Presti looked to work with Westbrook and his agent to find a suitable landing spot for the 2017 NBA MVP. In the end, he’ll be reunited with former Thunder teammate — and 2018 MVP — James Harden, forming an incredibly talented backcourt with some real fit questions in Houston.

Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the third consecutive season in 2018-19, though his scoring dipped and his already poor efficiency dipped with it, as he put up 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists per game on 42.8 percent shooting from the field and a very poor 29 percent from three. However, he’s been a All-NBA selection in eight of the last nine seasons, the sole omission the 2013-14 season when he only played 46 games because of a knee injury.

Paul, meanwhile, is clearly on the downside of his career, and seems unlikely to be long for Oklahoma City. Presti is compiling one of the largest draft pick caches in NBA history, as the Thunder have acquired eight first-round picks since the NBA Draft.

As a result, it seems likely that Presti would look to move Paul and his massive contract — the deal is a swapping of two of the league’s most exorbitant salaries, with Paul and Westbrook each set to earn around $44 million by the 2021-2022 seasons, with each already creeping towards the $40 million mark this year.

It’s an all-in move for Daryl Morey and the Rockets, who have put together a superstar pairing to match a score of duos that have emerged this summer, and while the fit is very questionable — sticking a high-usage, inefficient scorer like Westbrook into an offense that revolves around isolations and 3-pointers — but the talent is undeniable, with two of the last three MVPs joining forces in Houston.

Related: NBA Free Agency: Clippers sign Kawhi Leonard, acquire Paul George in trade