NBA rumors: Thunder trade Russell Westbrook to Rockets for Chris Paul


NBA rumors: Thunder trade Russell Westbrook to Rockets for Chris Paul

The Western Conference's makeover continued in dramatic fashion Thursday.

The Oklahoma City Thunder reportedly traded star point guard Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul and a haul of first-round draft picks, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The reported trade comes the same week the Thunder announced they traded forward Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and a package of first-round picks. Westbrook reportedly was open to a trade after George's departure, and sources told Wojnarowski that Westbrook's "preferred destination" was to reunite with former Oklahoma City teammate James Harden. 

The duo starred for the Thunder from 2009 through 2012, before Harden -- then largely limited to a role as the Thunder's sixth man -- was traded to the Rockets. Their last season together resulted in an NBA Finals loss to the Miami Heat, who at the time boasted LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. James has played for two teams (Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers) since, while Wade and Bosh are retired. 

Paul, 34, is under contract for three more seasons and a cap hit of just shy of $40 million annually. Paul spent much of his first two seasons with the then-New Orleans Hornets playing in Oklahoma City in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but his future in OKC is uncertain. 

Paul's agent will talk with Thunder general manager Sam Presti about next steps for CP3, which could include a potential partnership in Miami with Jimmy Butler, according to The Athletic's Sam Amick.

Harden and Westbrook are two of the NBA's most ball-dominant guards, and how the once-and-current teammates fit alongside one another remains to be seen. Still, it's clear that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey intended to strike in the now wide-open Western Conference. Kevin Durant's departure from the Warriors and Klay Thompson's torn ACL created the opening, while Kawhi Leonard (Clippers) and Anthony Davis (Lakers) heading to Los Angeles likely added urgency. 

Westbrook is four years younger than Paul, but his game has showed signs of slowing down. His free-throw attempts per game (6.2) decreased for the second consecutive season, as did his free-throw and 3-point percentages. Westbrook relies on athleticism, and it's fair to wonder if he can continue to do so as he continues to age into his 30s. 

[RELATED: Curry talks KD's departure, Dubs' expectations next season]

The Rockets adding Westbrook doesn't dramatically alter the West's power structure, as Houston figured to be formidable whether he or Paul was running the point. If the Warriors and Rockets meet for the third straight postseason and the fifth playoff series in the last six years, Golden State's roster turnover might have left them vulnerable to Houston anyway. 

But the Warriors no longer appear to be the West's best, and Morey is rolling the dice to see if one more shake-up gets the Rockets over the hump. 

Monta Ellis: Joe Lacob 'deserved' boos at Chris Mullin jersey ceremony

Monta Ellis: Joe Lacob 'deserved' boos at Chris Mullin jersey ceremony

On March 13, 2012, Golden State traded fan-favorite Monta Ellis to the Bucks in exchange for Andrew Bogut.

Six days later, the Warriors retired Chris Mullin's No. 17 jersey during halftime of their game against the Timberwolves. And during the ceremony, the Oracle Arena crowd incessantly boo'd owner Joe Lacob to voice its displeasure with the franchise's decision to part ways with Monta.

It was a night Warriors fans never will forget.

Klay Thompson recently said that he felt bad for Monta because the 2005 second-round pick found out he was being shipped to Milwaukee by watching SportsCenter.

To nobody's surprise, Monta wasn't happy with how the transaction transpired because team executives told him hours before the deal became official that he would remain with the Dubs.

“Not only so much that they traded me, (but) just how they went about trading me," Monta recently told Marcus Thompson of The Athletic. "If they would’ve traded me and let me know the process of everything that was going down, it would’ve been a whole lot better.

"I mean, that was a career-changing experience right there."

The 2006-07 NBA Most Improved Player was watching live from his hotel room in Portland when Lacob got showered with boos.

“I was laughing — but crying at the same time,” Ellis told Thompson. “Because it was bad. It was like, man, all I did for that city, for that organization. Put my body on the line. Even when they doubted me when I came back from my ankle injury.

"I felt like I deserved to know everything that was going on with the process of that whole little thing. It just went sideways. So when I (saw) that I laughed and I said, ‘He deserved it.’"

[RELATEDKlay still owns first big purchase made after joining Dubs]

At the time, Dub Nation was fed up with losing and didn't have faith that things would improve.

Fast forward nearly eight years later and it's safe to assume that Warriors fans everywhere are extremely thankful that Lacob and Peter Guber own the Warriors.

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Warriors' Steve Kerr shares childhood story that explains competitiveness

Warriors' Steve Kerr shares childhood story that explains competitiveness

Steve Kerr and Draymond Green have had their fair share of verbal altercations over the years.

Everybody remembers what happened in the locker room at halftime of the Warriors' win in Oklahoma City on Feb. 27, 2016.

But do you remember what Kerr said to Draymond during his NBA Coach of the Year press conference in April 2016?

"Draymond -- don't ever change. Keep yelling at me, I'm gonna keep yelling at you," he said. "It's the best. He provides the edge that this team needs. Without Draymond, we'd be in trouble. We would be too quiet, and too nice."

Kerr recently sat down with NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke and Logan Murdock for a conversation on the "Runnin' Plays" podcast, and discussed how he and the three-time NBA champion are similar. In the process, he told an amazing story.

"We are equally as competitive and we are equally as likely to blow up," Kerr explained. "Either one of us will snap -- he'll get a "T" (technical foul), I'll break a clipboard. It's just the way we're built. That's how much it means to us.

"My family would tell you a story -- when I was about six years old, we had an Easter egg hunt at my cousin's house. They had all the eggs laid out and they had one big golden egg that was the big prize. I didn't find it, and when I saw somebody else found it ... I lost it. I completely lost it -- crying. My poor mom and dad, they were so embarrassed.

"And this kind of stuff used to happen all the time. If I didn't do well in sports ... pitching, if I gave up a hit, I'd throw my glove on the ground. I would snap.

"That's how Draymond is, right? We bonded over our ability to snap."

[REWINDNo more 3-pointers for Draymond? Steve Kerr's mom ...]

Are you also laughing hysterically thinking about little six-year-old Stephen Douglas Kerr throwing a temper tantrum?

Awesome stuff.

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