OKLAHOMA CITY, July 16, 2019 – The Oklahoma City Thunder has acquired guard Chris Paul, two first-round draft picks (2024 and 2026) and the right to two first-round pick swaps (2021 and 2025) from the Houston Rockets in exchange for guard Russell Westbrook, it was announced today by Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.
“We recently had conversations with Russell about the team, his career, and how he sees the future. 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,” said Presti. “Our ability to have these types of conversations and work so closely with Russell and his agent Thad Foucher is only possible because of the depth of the relationship that has been built over the last 11 years.
“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. Russell and his wife Nina, their three children, his brother and his parents will always remain part of the Thunder family. We wish them nothing but happiness and success in the future.”
During his 11 seasons with the Thunder, Westbrook appeared in 821 games (804 starts) and averaged 23.0 points, 8.4 assists, 7.0 rebounds and 1.76 steals in 34.5 minutes per game. He earned 2016-17 NBA MVP honors after becoming the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double over a season.
The eight-time All-Star and two-time All-Star Game MVP is the all-time Thunder leader in scoring (18,859), assists (6,897), rebounds (5,760) and steals (1,442). He is the only player in NBA history to lead the league in scoring and assists during multiple seasons.
Originally selected fourth overall in the 2008 NBA Draft, Westbrook helped lead the Thunder to the third-best record in the NBA during his 11 seasons with the team. Oklahoma City’s nine playoff appearances this past decade rank as the second most in the NBA during this span.
“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,” said Thunder Chairman Clayton I. Bennett. “His legacy here is immense, and he will be honored by the team for all he has done. We wish he and Nina and their family all the best. While this era of Thunder basketball now comes to an end, I’m confident our talented team of people will once again position the Thunder for success in the future.”
In 14 NBA seasons with the New Orleans and Oklahoma City Hornets, the LA Clippers and the Rockets, Paul has appeared in 950 games (all starts) and averaged 18.5 points, 9.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.23 steals in 35.1 minutes.
A nine-time All-Star, Paul has been named to the All-NBA team on eight occasions, led the league in steals six times and assists four times. He has also been named to nine NBA All-Defensive Teams. Paul is the only player in NBA history to average at least 18.0 points, 9.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals.
The North Carolina native is the NBA active leader in assists (9,181) and steals (2,122) and ranks seventh and ninth all-time in each category, respectively. Drafted fourth overall in the 2005 NBA Draft out of Wake Forest, Paul was named the 2005-06 NBA Rookie of the Year.
“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,” said Presti. “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.”
As part of the transaction, the Thunder receives two protected first-round picks (2024 and 2026) from the Rockets (both picks are 1-4 protected). Additionally, Oklahoma City secures the right to first-round pick swaps with Houston in 2021 and 2025.