When the 2018-19 NBA season came to an end, most people were expecting the Oklahoma City Thunder to surround Russell Westbrook and Paul George with a better supporting cast that could give them a strong chance of fully dominating the Western Conference and contending for the NBA championship title. Unfortunately, weeks after the 2019 NBA free agency started, the Thunder ended up losing both Westbrook and George in separate blockbuster deals.
The chaos in Oklahoma City began when Paul George expressed his desire to team up with Kawhi Leonard on the Los Angeles Clippers. Most people were shocked by George’s move since he just signed a massive contract with the Thunder last summer. However, in an interview with Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated, Russell Westbrook said that he wasn’t surprised at all by George’s decision to demand a trade from the Thunder.
“I can’t be surprised if me and Paul were in communication the whole time. So I wouldn’t say I was surprised at all. I’m all for doing what’s best for my teammates. If Paul felt like it was time for him to move on and explore options, then I’mma back him. That’s the type of relationship we have.”
Though they are no longer teammates, both Russell Westbrook and Paul George are currently on NBA teams that have a legitimate chance of contending for the NBA championship title in the 2019-20 NBA season. While George is now representing his hometown team with Kawhi Leonard, Westbrook reunited with former Thunder teammate James Harden on the Houston Rockets.
When the Paul George-to-Clippers deal became official, Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey revealed that they immediately made a call to the Thunder and inquired about Russell Westbrook’s availability via trade. After a series of talks, the Rockets succeeded in acquiring Westbrook from the Thunder for a trade package including Chris Paul and future draft picks.
“Once Paul went to the Clippers, I reached out to Oklahoma City and they said they were open to talk,” Morey said. “So we talked.”
The Rockets’ decision to trade for Russell Westbrook has earned mixed reactions from their fans all around the world. Though they managed to replace the 34-year-old Chris Paul with a younger and MVP-caliber point guard, some people aren’t convinced that Westbrook and James Harden can coexist in Houston. Westbrook and Harden are aware that they will be needing to make certain adjustments with their game now that they are playing together on one team, but both of them are confident that they could immediately build good chemistry. Westbrook believes that his tandem with Harden would be “scary,” not for the Rockets, but for other NBA teams in the league.