Home / Sports / Report: Russell Westbrook traded to Thunder Flares for Chris Paul, Picks | Bleacher's report

Report: Russell Westbrook traded to Thunder Flares for Chris Paul, Picks | Bleacher's report

Russell Westbrook (0), Thunder goaltender in Oklahoma City, plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, March 25, 2019, in Memphis, Tennessee (Photo AP / Brandon Dill)

Brandon Dill / Associated Press

The Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday exchanged the Russell Westbrook star on Houston Rockets eight times, according to ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Thunder receives Chris Paul, first round pick in 2024 and 2026 and the right to trade the first round in 2021 and 2025.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium broke the protections on these choices:

Wojnarowski Westbrook added that his agent was working in tandem with Thunder's general manager, Sam Presti, to take him to Houston.

This decision comes after Paul George's unexpected deal with the Los Angeles Clippers in July.

Kawhi Leonard's signing with the Clippers was a little surprising, but they were still one of three remaining finalists for stalling for the offseason. Nobody thought George would join him in Los Angeles.

Losing George drastically lowered the Thunder playoff ceiling, which was already a question that came after the first straight round since George's trade. Negotiating Westbrook and undertaking large-scale reconstruction was of course an option that Oklahoma City had to seriously consider.

Wojnarowski reports on July 6, the Thunder was in contact with Westbrook representatives about its possible transfer elsewhere: "The two sides have 11 years of history together, and both understand that the time has come to explore Westbrook's commercial opportunities, League sources said. "

From a sentimental point of view, it will be a blow to fans in Oklahoma City.

With Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden in the lead, the Thunder reached the NBA finals in 2012, tipping the Miami Heat five times. The franchise seemed on the point of founding a dynasty.

The three players are now gone and OKC has never passed the finals of the Western Conference since the 2011-12 season. That would probably remain the case if Westbrook had stayed and had played his entire career with the Thunder, but that definitely ended an era for the team.

Looking at the situation in a pragmatic way, the advantage of losing George is to allow the Thunder and Westbrook to make a mutually beneficial decision about their respective futures.

Westbrook owes $ 171.1 million over the next four seasons and will earn $ 47.1 million only in 2022-2023, assuming he accepts the last year of his contract.

This agreement made it quite difficult to bring a title candidate around Westbrook and George. The Thunder were still in the luxury tax, even after eliminating George.

Now, Presti has a clean slate to start over.

Westbrook probably has a better chance of winning a championship as well. At the very least, he should be able to get out of the first round with the Rockets.

Calling it a win-win solution for Houston is obvious, but Westbrook's age, contract and performance add an extra layer of urgency.

His incredible athleticism is one of the reasons he can do triple doubles every night. As he continues to age, he is just wondering how long he will continue to do.

At 6 "and 200 pounds, Westbrook is not built like LeBron James, and at the same time he does not seem able to adapt his game to an inevitable physical decline.

Westbrook shot 29 percent from a three-point distance in 2018-19, the fourth time in five years, scoring less than 30 percent of his three points. NBA.com & # 39; s player tracking data brush a picture even worse. He hit 32.2% of his catch and shot and 31.4% of his jumpers.

The aforementioned emergency comes from the fact that the Westbrook version the Rockets are getting now may not be the same player in two or three years. He will not age gracefully if he fails to improve as a shooter.

Houston might have only a small window to maximize Westbrook's field value before its production and contract combine to become serious problems.

Head coach Mike D & # 39; Antoni has mostly managed to balance Paul and James Harden. He will now have to do the same with Westbrook and Harden.

The Rockets were greeted with some skepticism when they acquired Paul to join Harden. Both players were used to being the main playmaker on their team, and Paul's more methodical style was the antithesis of Houston's top-level offensive.

The pairing worked initially as the Rockets were at a match in the 2018 NBA Finals. But then, they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games in the second round last season, followed by rumors of friction between Paul and Harden.

Exchanging Paul for Westbrook could leave the Rockets in better shape and they acquired Westbrook without giving up on Clint Capela, Eric Gordon or PJ Tucker. Losing one or more of these three players would have further depleted a list that already lacked depth.

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