By Michael Doutey
Things move fast in the NBA. A week ago the Oklahoma City Thunder were looking to make moves to improve around their two Superstars – Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Less than a week later, both Westbrook and Paul are gone and the Thunder are in full rebuild mode.
Speaking of moving fast, Thursday morning it appeared that the likely destination for Westbrook was Miami, but those trade talks stalled. Sam Presti found Westbrook a new home in Houston in classic Presti fashion. Everyone figured the Thunder would make a move in one direction and Presti juked everyone out as if he was Barry Sanders. Clearly, Houston was a surprise destination for Westbrook.
While Miami was a place Westbrook was interested in, it appears that Houston topped Westbrook’s wishlist. A reunion with James Harden was something Westbrook and Harden both wanted and OKC worked with Westbrook to make him happy. While OKC did that for Westbrook, they also received a nice return for him.
The Thunder brought back two draft picks in 2024 and 2026 (both 1-4 protected), pick swaps in 2021 and 2025, and Chris Paul. The Thunder have now accumulated eight first-round picks in the PG, Jerami Grant, and Westbrook trades.
Now, what will OKC do with CP3? That will unfold over the coming days. Presti will meet with Paul’s representation and will find out what he wants moving forward. Time will tell what happens there, but I doubt that Paul will want to stay in OKC for long.
But the story of the night is the departure of Oklahoma City’s savior. The Thunder organization owes so much to Westbrook. He helped put OKC on the global map. He was excellent in the community. In OKC’s darkest days after Kevin Durant left, he was the one who brought smiles back to Thunder fans. He carried a team in one of the most historic seasons in 2016-2017. He broke the triple-double record that was thought to be untouchable. He won the MVP based on the incredible amount of clutch plays and game-winning shots. It was exactly what we needed after July 4th, 2016.
But after three consecutive first-round playoff exits and PG jetting off to LA with Kawhi Leonard, it was time for both OKC and Westbrook to move on. He gave everything to this city and this team. He brought a wide spectrum of emotions from fans. In a span of five seconds, you could see Westbrook make one of the craziest plays you’d ever seen and somehow combine it with a play that was infuriating and frustrating. As beautifully frustrating of a player as he is, we will all miss watching Hero 0 represent OKC.