Another blockbuster deal just went down in the NBA.
The Oklahoma City Thunder traded star point guard Russell Westbrook on Thursday to the Houston Rockets in exchange for point guard Chris Paul and multiple first-round draft picks, ESPN reported.
The Thunder were looking to move the 2017 MVP after they traded Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers this week. By sending him to Houston, Westbrook will be reunited with former teammate James Harden, who won the MVP in 2018.
The Rockets sent the Thunder first round picks in 2024 and 2026. Oklahoma City will also have the right to swap picks in 2021 and 2025. The Thunder now have a treasure chest of future assets, as they also received five first-rounders and two pick swaps in the George trade.
It is unknown if the Thunder will look to keep Paul, a 34-year-old All-Star who has three years left on his four-year, $159 million deal. Paul has experience playing in Oklahoma City as his former team, the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans), played in the city during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Westbrook, meanwhile, is about to begin a four-year, $170 million supermax contract. Like Wizards star John Wall, there are questions about how Westbrook will age in the latter portion of the deal, making this a particularly risky trade for Houston.
But the upside could be worth it. Houston watched as their rivals in the Western Conference retooled this offseason — with the Clippers gaining George and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, while the Lakers got Anthony Davis to pair with LeBron James. Houston, too, is coming off a disappointing second-round exit to the Golden State Warriors. The team, too, has dealt with reports of internal dysfunction this offseason.
The trade allows for both teams to reset — and adds a layer of intrigue in what’s poised to be a fascinating upcoming NBA season.
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