The Russell Westbrook-Chris Paul trade became official Tuesday, when the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets spread the news in press releases.
In the deal reported by multiple outlets Thursday, Westbrook was sent to the Rockets for Paul and a pair of first-round draft picks. The Thunder will receive the Rockets' first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 and the option to swap first-round selections in 2021 and 2025.
"We recently had conversations with Russell about the team, his career, and how he sees the future," Thunder executive vice president and general manager Sam Presti said in the release. "Through those conversations we came to the understanding that looking at some alternative situations would be something that made sense for him. As a result, and due to his history with the Thunder, we worked together to accommodate this. ...
"Russell Westbrook is the most important player in the brief history of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has left an indelible mark on this team, city and state. None of us could have anticipated the player he has become, and we are all deeply proud of what he has contributed to the success of the franchise and to our community."
The move reunites Westbrook, 30, with former Thunder teammate and reigning NBA scoring champion James Harden. They played together for three seasons from 2009-12, making the playoffs all three years and reaching the NBA Finals in 2012.
Paul, 34, returns to Oklahoma City, where he played his first two NBA seasons (2005-07) when the New Orleans franchise was temporarily relocated after Hurricane Katrina.
An eight-time All-Star and two-time NBA scoring leader, Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the third straight season in 2018-19 with 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and a league-high 10.7 assists in 73 games. He has four years and $171.2 million remaining on his contract, including a $47.1 million player option for 2022-23.
The fourth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Westbrook led the Thunder to the third-best record in the NBA during his 11 seasons in Oklahoma City.
"I have a great deal of respect for Russell and there is no way to adequately describe our appreciation for what he has meant to Oklahomans," Thunder chairman Clayton I. Bennett said in a prepared statement. "His legacy here is immense, and he will be honored by the team for all he has done."
A nine-time All-Star and four-time league assists leader, Paul averaged 15.6 points, 8.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals in 58 games last season. He has three years and $124.1 million remaining on his contract, including a $44.2 million player option in 2021-22.
The NBA active leader in assists (9,181) and steals (2,122) whose career totals rank seventh and ninth all-time, respectively, Paul was the NBA Rookie of the Year in the 2005-06 season.
"Getting a player of Chris' caliber gives us another experienced playmaker and leader, while the additional draft picks continue to allow us to further commit to the long-term vision that we are embarking on for the Thunder," Presti said. "We welcome Chris back to Oklahoma City where as a member of the Hornets he helped to pave the way for the Thunder's arrival in OKC."
--Field Level Media