After the Oklahoma City Thunder dealt forward Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, the writing was on the wall for the franchise. In order to start a rebuild, the team would have to ship former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook out in order to kickstart a restructuring of the franchise.
On Thursday night, the Thunder achieved their goal and significantly altered the NBA landscape.
Oklahoma City agreed to a blockbuster trade with the Houston Rockets, which will send Russell Westbrook south to Houston and will send a bevy of draft picks and veteran point guard Chris Paul back to OKC.
Westbrook, who was drafted by the Thunder back in 2008 and has spent the entirety of his NBA career with the Southwest Conference franchise, said goodbye to the only franchise he has known with an emotional post on Instagram.
Oklahoma City will receive Chris Paul, two first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, and the ability to swap first-round selections with Houston in two other seasons. There has already been speculation that OKC could decide to trade Paul, who is still a quality point guard, to a contending team.
Houston’s new dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and James Harden, ex-teammates in Oklahoma City, promises to be one of the most exciting partnerships in the NBA. The Rockets have a new weapon and will look to compete for the Western Conference crown next season.