Arguably the biggest shock trade in this year’s offseason is Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook being traded to the Houston Rockets in return for Chris Paul. Westbrook had played out his entire career with the Thunder before he was given the opportunity to team back up with James Harden in Houston.
It’s clearly an emotional moment for Thunder fans who will be quite disappointed in seeing such a star of the franchise move on with his career elsewhere.
Oklahoma City Thunder’s general manager Sam Presti spoke very highly about the All-Star guard in the Thunder’s statement announcing the trade. Presti said that the team made an effort in accommodating Westbrook’s wishes and called the guard the “most important player” in franchise history.
“We recently had conversations with Russell about the team, his career, and how he sees the future," said Presti. "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.”
When taking a look at Westbrook’s career so far, it would be extremely hard to argue with the points that Presti makes. Without counting the history of the Seattle Supersonics, Westbrook is the all-time OKC leader in points, assists, rebounds and steals. The guard has become an All-Star eight times and went on to become the MVP in 2017.
While Kevin Durant left to search for a championship with the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook took the reigns in Oklahoma and kept pushing to try and take the Thunder back to the Finals.
Over a decade with the franchise, Westbrook’s time with the Thunder has come to an end but it’s nice to see that there isn’t any bad blood from either party.