LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Russell Westbrook’s time with the Oklahoma City Thunder is over, but he is leaving the franchise and the state with no bitterness.
Westbrook was traded to the Houston Rockets on Thursday night in a deal that sent Chris Paul and two first-round draft picks to Oklahoma City. But he thanked the organization and the people of Oklahoma in an Instagram post on Friday night, saying he was “eternally grateful.”
“I can’t even begin to put into words all of the emotions I have right now,” Westbrook wrote. “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.”
Meanwhile, Paul is not expected to stay in the Sooner State for very long, as Oklahoma City is already exploring trades involving the nine-time All-Star point guard, ESPN reported.
The Miami Heat are reportedly at the top of potential destinations for the veteran, but there are a few other spots he could land. Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti is working with Paul’s representation to help find him a new home.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on Friday morning’s “Get Up” show that the Thunder did the deal with the intention that Paul never plays a game for the franchise.
Free agent center Tyson Chandler, who spent most of last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, agreed to a one-year deal with the Rockets, multiple outlets reported.
The 36-year-old veteran is now set to begin his 19th season in the NBA.