BREAKING NEWS!: Russell Westbrook Traded To Rockets From Thunder For Chris Paul And A Grip Of Picks. How Do You Think Is Will Go?

Brandon Dill/Associated Press

BREAKING: Chris Paul TRADED to OKC Thunder! BEST Highlights from 2018-19 NBA Season!

The Oklahoma City Thunder traded eight-time All-Star Russell Westbrookto the Houston Rockets on Thursday, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Thunder are receiving Chris Paul, first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 and the right to swap first-rounders in 2021 and 2025.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium broke down the protections on those picks: 

Shams Charania
@ShamsCharania

Sources: Pick protections in Thunder/Rockets, Russell Westbrook/Chris Paul trade:
2024 first round pick, protected 1-4
2026 first round pick, protected 1-4
2025 swap, 1-20 protected
2021 swap, protected 1-4 -- OKC can swap Clippers pick or Heat pick.

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Wojnarowski added Westbrook and his agent worked in tandem with Thunder general manager Sam Presti to get him to Houston.

The move comes after Paul George's unexpected trade to the Los Angeles Clippers in July.

Adrian Wojnarowski
@wojespn

Thunder are playing a long-game unseen in recent NBA history: Seven additional first-round picks lined up through 2026 -- plus four pick swaps -- via deals for Paul George and Chris Paul.

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Kawhi Leonard signing with the Clippers was a little surprising, but they were still one of the three remaining finalists to land him this offseason. Nobody thought George would join him in Los Angeles.

Losing George significantly lowered the Thunder's playoff ceiling, which was already a question coming off back-to-back first-round exits since the George trade. Trading Westbrook and embracing a full-scale rebuild was naturally one option Oklahoma City had to seriously consider.

Wojnarowski reported July 6 the Thunder were in contact with Westbrook's representatives about possibly moving him elsewhere: "The two sides have 11 years of history together, and both understand that the time has likely come to explore trade possibilities for Westbrook, league sources said."

From a sentimental standpoint, this will be a clear blow for fans in Oklahoma City.

With Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden leading the way, the Thunder reached the 2012 NBA Finals, losing to the Miami Heat in five games. The franchise looked to be on the verge of building a dynasty.

All three players are now gone and OKC never advanced past the Western Conference Finals since the 2011-12 season. That was probably going to remain the case if Westbrook had stayed and played out the duration of his career with the Thunder, but this definitively ends an era for the team.

Looking at the situation pragmatically, the upside of losing George is it allowed the Thunder and Westbrook to reach a mutually beneficial decision about their respective futures.

Westbrook is owed $171.1 million over the next four seasons and will make $47.1 million alone in 2022-23, assuming he opts in to the final year of his contract.

That deal made it hard enough to assemble a title contender around Westbrook and George. The Thunder were then still in the luxury tax even after taking George out of the mix.

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The Miami Heat are a "possibility" for nine-time All-Star Chris Paul if the Oklahoma City Thunder choose to move the recently acquired point guard, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Wojnarowski reported Thursday night that OKC had acquired Paul, two future first-round picks (2024 and 2026) and the right to swap picks in 2021 and 2025 from the Houston Rockets in exchange for 2016-17 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook.   

Paul's agent, Leon Rose, is expected to meet with Thunder general manager Sam Presti "in the coming days" to discuss his client's future, per The Athletic's Sam Amick

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald previously reported that Miami had been engaged in trade talks with Oklahoma City for Westbrook but was not willing to put together a package featuring "multiple young, valuable assets." Now that Westbrook has reportedly been dealt, Paul could be in play.

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