LAS VEGAS — Russell Westbrook and James Harden are together again, and Chris Paul is leaving Houston to make that reunion happen.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have traded Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Paul in a swapping of top point guards. The Thunder also are getting first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, plus the right to swap first-rounders in two other seasons.
Paul is a nine-time All-Star, Westbrook an eight-time selection. Paul has 9,181 career assists, the most among active players. Westbrook has 138 triple-doubles, tied with Magic Johnson for second-most in NBA history behind only Oscar Robertson’s 181. Both members of Houston’s new glitzy backcourt are recent MVPs: Westbrook won it in 2017, Harden won it in 2018. And the trade means that the NBA’s two highest scorers the past five seasons — Harden with 11,958 points, Westbrook with 10,025 — are now teammates.
Westbrook and Harden were Thunder teammates for three seasons, the last of those being the 2011-12 campaign when that duo and Kevin Durant took Oklahoma City to the NBA Finals. They lost in five games to Miami, and Harden departed that summer for Houston.
But when the Thunder agreed last week to trade Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers it became clear that Westbrook would be on the move as well. And this trade will mean that Thunder general manager Sam Presti has added eight first-round picks to the team’s stockpile in the last week or so.
Oklahoma City got five first-round future selections as part of the George trade. The Thunder are getting two more in this trade, and got a 2020 first-round pick in the deal this week that sent Jerami Grant to Denver.
Paul and Harden were teammates for two seasons in Houston. The Rockets had a 3-2 lead over Golden State in the 2018 Western Conference finals when Paul injured a hamstring, and the Warriors rallied to win that series in seven games on the way to the NBA title. This past season, Houston was ousted in the second round by the Warriors.
Paul, 34, is owed roughly $125 million over the final three years of his contract, including a $44.2 million option for 2021-22. Westbrook, who turns 31 early next season, is owed $171 million over the final four years of his existing deal.
Morris spurns Spurs, will join Knicks
Forward Marcus Morris has reneged on an agreement in principle he had made with San Antonio on a two-year, $20 million deal and instead will join New York on a one-year, $15 million contract.
The Knicks had originally come to an agreement with guard Reggie Bullock but backed out out of the deal and signed Morris instead.
The decision by Morris to pull out of his agreement with the Spurs had many team executives at the Las Vegas Summer League questioning just what that would mean to free agency, where handshake deals are made ahead of the moratorium that signals the official signing period. The Spurs moved on from Morris on Thursday and, according to an ESPN report, agreed to a deal with Trey Lyles.
Morris averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 rebounds for Boston last season.
Grizzlies: Memphis officially added guard Tyus Jones, who played for Minnesota last season. The Grizzlies gave Jones a three-year offer sheet worth $28 million, which the Timberwolves didn’t match. Jones averaged 6.9 points, 4.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 22.9 minutes for Minnesota last season. The 23-year-old set an NBA single-season record with a 6.96 assist-turnover ratio.