Report: Thunder deal Russell Westbrook to Rockets for Chris Paul, picks

The Oklahoma City Thunder have reportedly agreed to trade Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for a package that includes Chris Paul and draft picks.

ESPN also reports that the 2024 and 2026 picks are top-four protected.

Westbrook reportedly wanted to play with Harden

According to the report, Westbrook wanted to play with his former Thunder teammate James Harden, and OKC general manager Sam Presti worked with Westbrook to make the deal happen.

After years of playoff relevance, the Thunder switched gears to a rebuild this offseason when Paul George asked to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers to join Kawhi Leonard. The Thunder granted the request in a deal that netted multiple first-round draft picks in return.

End of an era in OKC

The George deal signaled the end of an era in Oklahoma City, as it made no sense for a rebuilding franchise to keep an MVP-caliber player on a max deal as it looked to start from scratch. The team that once rostered Kevin Durant, James Harden and Westbrook is now a distant memory.

For the Rockets, the move lends credence to reports that there were growing tensions between Paul and Harden, who suffered a second straight playoff exit at the hands of the Golden State Warriors this season.

23 PHOTOS
Russell Westbrook through the years
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Russell Westbrook through the years
UCLA's Russell Westbrook, right, is congratulated by NBA commissioner David Stern after being picked fourth overall by the Seattle SuperSonics during the first round of the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 26, 2008 in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) brings the ball up court in the first half of their NBA basketball game in Houston, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008. (AP Photo/Bob Levey)
In this Dec. 10, 2008, photo, Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook dunks against the Memphis Grizzlies in an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City. Westbrook was named the NBA's Western Conference rookie of the month for December. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook poses for a photo during the 2009-2010 Thunder Media Day in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Monday, September 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook in an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, Dec. 31, 2010. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots in front of Sacramento Kings forward, Tyreke Evans, right, in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, Dec. 17, 2010. Oklahoma City won 102-87. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook listens to a question during a news conference at media day in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook celebrates during an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) gestures at the end of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Oklahoma City, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. Oklahoma City won 114-96. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook, answers questions at Jordan Brand’s Flight Experience on Saturday, February 16, 2013 in Houston, TX. Westbrook was Jordan Brand’s first athlete to debut the AJXX8s, wearing them for the first time in December of 2012. (Photo by Omar Vega/Invision for Jordan Brand/AP Images)
PORTLAND, OR - DECEMBER 4: Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) is seen during the Portland Trail Blazers 111-104 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Moda Center on December 4, 2013 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Elise/Getty Images)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) cheers in front of Phoenix Suns center Miles Plumlee, right, in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts to a call by referee Gary Zielinski, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2015, file photo, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook celebrates following a dunk during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, in Oklahoma City. A source with direct knowledge of the situation says the Thunder have reached a new deal with All-Star guard Russell Westbrook. The two sides have agreed on a new three-year contract worth $85.7 million. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016, because the team had not announced the deal. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
FILE - In this June 27, 2015, file photo, Oklahoma City Thunder NBA player Russell Westbrook arrives for the presentation of Dior Homme men's Spring-Summer 2016 fashion collection in Paris, France. When you're Westbrook, the undisputed king of NBA fashion, you don't spend the offseason like typical players do. The five-time All-Star passes his time designing clothes, perched on the front row for shows during New York Fashion Week or talking style and tennis with Vogue magazine editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. (AP Photo/Zacharie Scheurer, File)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 24: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder dunks against the Golden State Warriors in the first half in game four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 24, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after scoring against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016. Oklahoma City won 112-100. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
MEMPHIS, TN - DECEMBER 29: Seconds before being ejected from the game, Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder questions official Brian Forte #45 about a call during the second half of a game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on December 29, 2016 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 16: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder dunks after a steal against the LA Clippers at Staples Center on January 16, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 12: NBA player Russell Westbrook poses with the Best Male Athlete award backstage during The 2017 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 18: Sports Illustrated Fashionable 50 honoree Russell Westbrook at Sports Illustrated 2017 Fashionable 50 Celebration at Avenue on July 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 01: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder dunks the ball against the Charlotte Hornets during their game at Spectrum Center on November 1, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 26: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on during the game against the Denver Nuggets on February 26, 2019 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Did Paul, Harden truly not get along?

Paul is one of the great playmakers in the history of the game and often found himself standing idly by on an offense that centered around isolation plays for Harden. That the pair couldn’t lead the Rockets to the NBA Finals appearance and championship that the franchise so desperately craves proved enough motivation for general manager Daryl Morey to make a major move.

With the Warriors dynasty ostensibly broken up with the departure of Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets and ACL injury to Klay Thompson, the Western Conference finds itself in an entirely new dynamic.

Rockets remain relevant

The Rockets saw an opportunity to make a move to compete with the Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and other contenders who hope to take the conference throne the Warriors have held for five consecutive seasons.

How the combination of Harden and Westbrook in the same backcourt will work is yet to be seen. Like Harden, Westbrook is accustomed to having the ball in his hands.

What’s next for Chris Paul?

The deal leaves another major question lingering. What’s the plan for Chris Paul?

A 34-year-old, 14-year veteran with three years and $124 million remaining on his contract seems to be an ill fit for a franchise that’s rebuilding.

But the Athletic’s Sam Amick reports that Oklahoma City anticipates that Paul “will be part of a good team that now has a treasure trove of future assets.”

The Thunder do have a stockpile of assets, but they don’t project to on-court success anytime soon with most of them being draft picks.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports that after “doing right by Russell Westrook,” the Thunder will “turn their attention to Chris Paul and what he wants,” while noting that Paul played briefly in Oklahoma City at the start of his career when the New Orleans Pelicans temporarily played there after Hurricane Katrina.

If that’s the case, then the question becomes, what does Chris Paul want? Does he have a genuine desire to play in Oklahoma City, or would prefer to play for a contender as he still seeks his first championship ring?

17 PHOTOS
Chris Paul and James Harden together on the Rockets
See Gallery
Chris Paul and James Harden together on the Rockets
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - MAY 08: James Harden #13 and Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets react to a call by the referee during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on May 08, 2019 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - APRIL 02: James Harden #13 and Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets look on during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on April 2, 2019 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 21: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets and Chris Paul #3 react as they both foul out during a 111-106 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on February 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 26: James Harden #13 and Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets (R) talk on the bench in the first half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on November 26, 2018 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 24: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets and Chris Paul #3 talk on the sidelines during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on November 24, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 04: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets and Chris Paul #3 during warm ups before playing the Indiana Pacers at Toyota Center on October 4, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 25: (L-R) Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Chris Paul, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, and Nene attend the 2018 NBA Awards at Barkar Hangar on June 25, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for Turner Sports)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JUNE 10: James Harden (L) and Chris Paul attend Summer Jam 2018 at MetLife Stadium on June 10, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 25: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets talks with Chris Paul #3 in the second half during Game Five of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Toyota Center on April 25, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 18: Chris Paul #3 and James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets look on during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 18, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 26: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets and Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets stands on the court during a NBA game against the Houston Rockets at the Smoothie King Center on January 26, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 22: James Harden #13 and Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets celebrate after Paul made a three-point shot late in the fourth quarter Miami Heat at Toyota Center on January 22, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul, left, and guard James Harden look on during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Rockets' Chris Paul (3) speaks with James Harden (13) in the second half during Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Utah Jazz, Monday, April 22, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Houston Rockets guard James Harden, left, talks with teammate Chris Paul as they walk off the court during a timeout in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Tuesday, April 2, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. The Rockets won 130-105. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Houston Rockets' James Harden, left, and Chris Paul (3) talk on the court in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Sunday, March 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Houston Rockets guard James Harden, right, talks with guard Chris Paul during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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