Westbrook 'eternally grateful' to Oklahoma City


Russell Westbrook thanked Oklahoma City fans Friday night in a heartfelt Instagram post, saying he is “eternally grateful” for the 11 years he spent in a Thunder uniform.

The Thunder agreed Thursday night to a blockbuster trade to send Westbrook to Houston, reuniting him with former Oklahoma City teammate James Harden. The Rockets will send Chris Paul, two protected first-round picks (2024 and 2026) and two pick swaps (2021 and 2025) to Oklahoma City, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.

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I can’t even begin to put into words all of the emotions I have right now. It’s been one heck of a journey Oklahoma! When I came here, I was 18 years old, bright eyed, and completely unaware of all the amazing things that would soon take place. I grew up in Oklahoma with an amazing bunch of people. The people here are what makes this place so special. From the fans, my coaches, my teammates, the entire Thunder organization, Mr. Bennett, Sam Presti, my friends, and everyone in the entire community. You are all what makes Oklahoma such a beautiful place, and the reason I’ve loved playing here all of this time. You have supported me through all of the ups and the downs, and stood by me through the good times, and tough times. For that I am eternally grateful to you. I’ve met so many amazing people who have helped shape me into the man that I am today. I hope I have impacted the Oklahoma community as much as Oklahoma has made an impact on me and my family. I’m leaving Oklahoma with so many friends and so much gratitude. I could never thank you all enough for sticking with me. It’s been a dream and a whirlwind. #WHYNOT

A post shared by Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) on Jul 12, 2019 at 3:16pm PDT

Meanwhile, Harden appeared at a sneaker event Friday and was asked about the agreed-to trade that will pair the NBA’s two highest scorers over the past five seasons: Harden with 11,958 points and Westbrook with 10,025.

“When I left OKC, I was sad. Then Houston made a home for me,” Harden said. “Rockets is my home. And now an opportunity came available where Russ wasn’t happy. Now we’re back. It’s going to be a lot of fun this year, I guarantee you that. Believe it.”

Westbrook and Harden, two former league MVP guards, were Thunder teammates for three seasons, the last of those being the 2011-12 campaign in which that duo and Kevin Durant took Oklahoma City to the NBA Finals. The Thunder lost in five games to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat, and Harden departed that summer for Houston, where he has been an All-Star ever since.

The Westbrook-Paul swap has not been formally announced, but the Thunder acknowledged Westbrook on their Twitter account.

Thunder GM Sam Presti worked with Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, to help honor his hopes of playing with the Rockets, league sources said.

“We’re excited to have Russell Westbrook. I would watch him play for Oklahoma City, and he’s so athletic. At the same time, this franchise just had the two years with the most wins it’s ever had in consecutive years, and we wouldn’t have accomplished that without Chris Paul. Chris Paul is unbelievable, and he’s gonna be sadly missed,” Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta told Fox 26 in Houston on Thursday.

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