It all happened so fast. One moment, Paul George and Russell Westbrook were preparing for another go together in OKC. The next, both stars (and former teammates) were traded elsewhere, and the Thunder were ready to rebuild in earnest.
In a strange and exciting turn of events, Russ’ 11-year tenure in Oklahoma City was over, and his new chapter with James Harden and the Rockets would begin.
But just how did Houston pull off such a monumental trade? According to GM Daryl Morey himself, they almost didn’t.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and executive vice president Rafael Stone decided to grab an Uber and head to the Rockets’ summer league game in Las Vegas.
In the course of that 20-minute ride — with Morey and Stone on their phones and the Uber driver, air pods in place, blissfully oblivious that an NBA-shaking trade to send Russell Westbrook to the Rockets was coming together in his back seat — the deal moved from dormant to done.
“It didn’t seem that there would be a fit for both parties,” Morey told the Houston Chronicle. “I told them (Tilman and Patrick Fertitta) quite a bit that it wasn’t going to happen because that’s what I believed. I didn’t think the pieces lined up. That’s why a three-team deal made sense. And I thought other teams would be more involved than we were; teams that had more fits.”
“I thought it was off,” he said. “Then, there were last-minute concessions on both sides. There was a back-and-forth at the end.”
Eventually, pessimism from Morey grew to persistence, and he eventually pulled off the trade that would grant the Rockets Westbrook in exchange for Chris Paul and a suitcase of picks.
Not surprisingly, when the deal did go down, Morey revealed his dread towards his chat with CP3.
“I hated that call,” Morey said. “I’m sure he hated it more. He’s been such a great player for us. We were moments away from winning a title with him.”
It was in the backseat of an Uber ride where the impossible became reality. Once again, Morey had pulled off wonders for his team — despite the overwhelming obstacles.
Westbrook, who is coming off his third-straight triple-double season, will re-join his former teammate Harden in bringing a Championship to the Rockets for the first time since 1995.