James Harden and Russell Westbrook are finally teammates again. The Houston Rockets were speculated as a potential landing spot for Westbrook when it was revealed he was on his way out of Oklahoma City, and on Thursday night that came to fruition as the Thunder shipped him to their Western Conference rivals for Chris Paul and a bunch of draft capital.
Is the fit perfect? Probably not, but Harden and Westbrook came up in the NBA together, are good friends, and eventually went on to win MVP awards, making them a formidable pairing in the loaded West. Plus, as Harden revealed during a recent public appearance in the aftermath of the trade, Westbrook wasn’t exactly happy with the situation in which he found himself at the time of his departure.
“I’ve been knowing Russell since I was, like, 10 years old,” Harden said. “We grew up together, so obviously when I left Oklahoma City, I was sad. But then Houston made a home for me, Rockets is my home. And now an opportunity came available where Russ wasn’t happy, and now we’re back. It’s going to be a lot of fun this year, I guarantee you that.“
That does track with some of what has been reported in the aftermath of Westbrook’s deal, namely that he and the Thunder discussed a possible move after Oklahoma City was bounced from the playoffs and that he didn’t try to change Paul George’s mind following his request for a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers. It’s hard to imagine he disliked how the franchise was run and perhaps this was more frustration with the team’s perceived ceiling, but regardless, Westbrook now gets the chance to follow in his friend’s footsteps and make Houston his new home.