Chris Paul is adamant he will not waive the final year of his contract to be traded to a contender for the NBA championship.

The Houston Rockets sent Paul, first-round picks for 2024 and 2026 and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025 to the Oklahoma City Thunder to acquire Russell Westbrook in the offseason.

It was expected the Thunder, who gained more draft capital and the promising Shai Gilgeous-Alexander by letting Paul George team up with Kawhi Leonard at the Los Angeles Clippers, would quickly look to move the nine-time All-Star on.

However, Paul has remained in Oklahoma City and led them to a 25-19 record – their latest match a 112-107 triumph over the Rockets at Toyota Center – making them surprise playoff contenders in the Western Conference.

Paul's $44.2million player option for the 2021-22 season is seen as a major obstacle in potential trade talks, but the 15-year point guard has no plan to give it up in pursuit of a ring.

"No chance. That's not happening. Nope," Paul told Sports Illustrated.

He continued: "People always try to tell your story. I'm just in the moment. If something happens and I get moved, I'll make adjustments. For now, I get to hoop. I get to play. My body feels good. I'm excited.

"I am without my wife and my kids, and when I get to practice, I'm excited to be there. I know we're going to compete. We have a fun team. That's all you want. A chance and an opportunity to compete.

"I guess I'm just different. Analytics may say this, the odds may say this. When the ball goes up that night, I think we have a chance to win."

Paul was surprised by the speed of his trade from the Rockets and the Thunder intend to do all they can to ensure he is happy with his next location if it comes to him being moved on.

"Outside of the immediate aftermath of when we initially traded for Chris, we haven't talked at all about the future or felt we needed to," said OKC general manager Sam Presti.

"Given that the trade happened so quickly for him and took him off guard, we thought it was important to build some trust, some rapport, and approach things collaboratively with his representation to see where his head was with respect to the situation with us. He never flinched, and that gave us confidence.

"His professionalism, his outlook, and his maturity have been on another level. We are going through a transition ourselves, so it's somewhat poetic, how he has returned at this point in the organisational timeline, and how he's elevated our team.

"All I can say is that Chris has been all we could have hoped for and more."

Chris Paul said he is "excited" to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder after being traded by the Houston Rockets.

Veteran guard Paul was dealt by the Rockets, along with multiple draft picks, to the Thunder as part of the Russell Westbrook trade earlier this month.

A nine-time NBA All-Star, Paul – who briefly played in Oklahoma City at the beginning of his career when the then-New Orleans Hornets were displaced by Hurricane Katrina – addressed the move in an Instagram post on Wednesday.

"So thankful to the city of Houston for all your generosity and kindness toward my family and me these past few years!" Paul wrote. "I'm truly blessed to have amazing fans who continue to support me throughout my career.

"I'm excited to be joining [the Thunder] next season and for this new opportunity to compete alongside my Thunder team-mates. I started my NBA career playing in Oklahoma City with the New Orleans Hornets and I look forward to returning!"

Oklahoma City were reportedly looking to flip Paul and had some initial discussions with the Miami Heat, but no deal materialised, and he is expected to begin the season with the team.

"Getting a player of Chris' calibre gives us another experienced playmaker and leader, while the additional draft picks continue to allow us to further commit to the long-term vision that we are embarking on for the Thunder," general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. 

"We welcome Chris back to Oklahoma City where as a member of the Hornets he helped to pave the way for the Thunder's arrival in OKC."

The Thunder are expected to enter a major rebuild after moving Westbrook, Paul George and Jerami Grant in July.

James Harden insists there is no bad blood between him and Chris Paul.

The Houston Rockets star was rumoured to have had enough of Paul following their second-round playoff exit at the hands of the Golden State Warriors in May.

Some reports stated Harden would not answer Paul's phone calls after last season and claimed the duo's relationship was "unsalvageable."

Paul has since been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, with Russell Westbrook coming the other way in a blockbuster deal.

However, Harden told reporters on Saturday that speculation of friction between him and Paul was not accurate.

"It was a lot of false talk," Harden said. "Obviously as team-mates, as competitors we argue on the court. You have your disagreements on the court. Your arguments on the court. But that's just part of basketball. Everybody has that. No matter what level of basketball you're in.

"All the negative media stuff and all the stuff that was running, it wasn't true. Me and Chris had constant communication and you know, we're good."

With Paul now out of the picture, Harden is set for a reunion with Westbrook, who he played alongside in Oklahoma City from 2009-12 before being traded to the Rockets.

Harden led the NBA in scoring with 36.1 points per game while Westbrook averaged a triple-double for a third straight year in 2018-19.

"I'm excited for this opportunity," Harden said. "It's a new chapter, but I know he's [Westbrook] excited."

 

James Harden says he will not need to make any changes for new team-mate Russell Westbrook when the pair are reunited at the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets completed a blockbuster trade for Westbrook this week, giving the Rockets two of the last three NBA MVPs on their roster.

Harden played with the new arrival at the Oklahoma City Thunder between 2009 and 2012 and is already confident about how their rekindled partnership will work out in a loaded Western Conference.

So much so, he insists nothing will need to change in his game to make the Rockets successful after Westbrook's move.

"None. None. None," he told reporters at an Adidas and James Harden ProCamp event when asked what adjustments would be needed.

"We played with each other in the NBA and the Olympics and all that. When you have talent like that, it works itself out. You communicate. You go out there and compete possession by possession. 

"You figure things out throughout the course of the season. That's just what it is. When you have talent, you have guys with IQ, you have guys willing to sacrifice, it always works itself out.

"It's that trust factor. I trust him; he trusts me. With the group that we already have and the things we already accomplished, it should be an easy transition for him to be incorporated right in, and things are going to go."

Chris Paul, whose relationship with Harden reportedly soured last season, two protected first-round draft selections and two pick swaps were sent to the Thunder to secure Westbrook's arrival.

"I'm excited for this opportunity," added Harden. "It's a new chapter, but I know he's excited. 

"He's been in Oklahoma City for 11 years so it's a new chapter for him. We welcome him with open arms. It's going to work.

"That's my boy right there, since I was like 10 or 11 years old. Obviously, we were team-mates for years. Now, we're at different stages of our careers. I hear a lot of negative things, 'You can't, he can't, they can't'. But we'll figure it out."

The Rockets lost out in six games to the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs last season, having gone 53-29 to claim the fourth seed in the West.

Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti said Russell Westbrook is the "most important player" in the NBA team's history following his trade to the Houston Rockets.

On Tuesday, the Thunder announced they had finalised the trade that sent Westbrook to Houston in exchange for two future first-round selections, two pick swaps and Chris Paul.

Westbrook, who spent his first 11 seasons with the franchise, will "always remain part of the Thunder family", Presti said.

"Russell Westbrook is the most important player in the brief history of the Oklahoma City Thunder," Presti said in a statement.

"He has left an indelible mark on this team, city and state. None of us could have anticipated the player he has become, and we are all deeply proud of what he has contributed to the success of the franchise and to our community."

Westbrook was the second top-level player the Thunder sent away this offseason. They moved Paul George — who finished third in the MVP voting in 2018-19 — to the Los Angeles Clippers and received five first-round selections, two pick swaps, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari in return.

The Thunder then dealt forward Jerami Grant to the Denver Nuggets for another first-round pick.

"We recently had conversations with Russell about the team, his career, and how he sees the future," Presti said. "Through those conversations we came to the understanding that looking at some alternative situations would be something that made sense for him. As a result, and due to his history with the Thunder, we worked together to accommodate this.

"Our ability to have these types of conversations and work so closely with Russell and his agent Thad Foucher is only possible because of the depth of the relationship that has been built over the last 11 years."

The deal reunites Westbrook with James Harden in Houston. The pair played together with the Thunder from 2009-12.

The Thunder could look to trade veteran guard Paul again before the start of 2019-20.

Rockets star James Harden expects to have "a lot of fun" alongside Russell Westbrook in Houston.

The Rockets acquired the 2017 NBA MVP from the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday in exchange for Chris Paul, protected first-round draft picks in 2024 and 2026, and the rights to swap picks in two other drafts.

Harden, who played his first three NBA seasons in Oklahoma City with Westbrook, is pleased to be reunited with his old team-mate.

"When I left OKC I was sad," Harden said on Friday, via The Athletic.

"Then Houston made a home for me. 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."

According to the Houston Chronicle, Harden and Westbrook "strongly favoured the move and a chance to play in a backcourt together".

Now, it is up to head coach Mike D'Antoni to build the offense around the two NBA MVPs, an award Harden won in 2018.

Trading Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook makes the Houston Rockets a better team, says franchise owner Tilman Fertitta.

According to ESPN, the Rockets have sent Chris Paul and two protected first-rounders in 2024 and 2026 to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2017 NBA MVP. They have also agreed to swap draft picks in 2021 and 2025.

Eight-time All-Star Westbrook, who has averaged a triple-double in each of the past three seasons, sought an exit from the Thunder after they traded Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Westbrook and Harden helped Oklahoma City reach the 2012 NBA Finals and Fertitta is relishing watching their reunion unfold.

"We're excited to have Russell Westbrook," Fertitta told Fox 26 in Houston.

"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.

"I said at the end of the year we're never gonna stand pat. We're always gonna try to get better. I think this makes us a better team. I hate to lose Chris Paul, but we felt like we did what we had to do to become a better team.

"I think it'll be very interesting and fun. James and Russell wanted to play together. It ought to be fun this year."

It has been suggested the Thunder could immediately look to move Paul on, with the Miami Heat, who were believed to be in the running to get Westbrook, touted as a potential destination.

Trading Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook makes the Houston Rockets a better team, says franchise owner Tilman Fertitta.

According to ESPN, the Rockets have sent Chris Paul and two protected first-rounders in 2024 and 2026 to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2017 NBA MVP. They have also agreed to swap draft picks in 2021 and 2025.

Eight-time All-Star Westbrook, who has averaged a triple-double in each of the past three seasons, sought an exit from the Thunder after they traded Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Westbrook and Harden helped Oklahoma City reach the 2012 NBA Finals and Fertitta is relishing watching their reunion unfold.

"We're excited to have Russell Westbrook," Fertitta told Fox 26 in Houston.

"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.

"I said at the end of the year we're never gonna stand pat. We're always gonna try to get better. I think this makes us a better team. I hate to lose Chris Paul, but we felt like we did what we had to do to become a better team.

"I think it'll be very interesting and fun. James and Russell wanted to play together. It ought to be fun this year."

It has been suggested the Thunder could immediately look to move Paul on, with the Miami Heat, who were believed to be in the running to get Westbrook, touted as a potential destination.

Chris Paul is reportedly a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. But, there is a chance he is with another organisation at some point in the near future.

Oklahoma City acquired the 34-year-old guard, along with two first-round selections and two pick swaps, from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Russell Westbrook, according to a report from ESPN on Thursday.

Paul is a nine-time NBA All-Star and one of the best point guards to ever play. All that is missing from his resume is a championship, which he undoubtedly wants to be chasing in the twilight of his career. The Thunder may not be the team for him, as they appear set to enter a rebuild after moving not only Westbrook, but Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers) and Jerami Grant (Denver Nuggets).

The Thunder tried to find a third team to move Paul to in the deal, according to ESPN, and his future remains unclear.

The Thunder are likely to consult with Paul to find out "what he wants", according to a separate report from ESPN. Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti has already spoken to Paul's agent Leon Rose, that report says.

Oklahoma City completed the deal with the hopes of Paul being part of the team, according to The Athletic.

But, Paul, his agent and Presti will speak again about next steps. The Thunder would have interest in completing a deal with the Miami Heat, if that is what Paul prefers. Paul would be teamed up with Jimmy Butler in Miami, who were also reportedly pursuing Westbrook.  

Paul struggled with injuries and had a down season in 2018-19, but he is still a valuable floor leader and scorer, despite his massive contract (three years, $124.1million).

He has a chance to help mentor the Thunder's new, young core — including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — or he could become a contributor elsewhere, on a team with more of a chance to win a title.

The Oklahoma City Thunder roster underwent a complete overhaul in less than a week.

Oklahoma City completed their third major trade when they sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets in exchange for two future first-round selections, two pick swaps and Chris Paul, according to the ESPN on Thursday.

Westbrook was the second top-level player the Thunder dealt away this offseason. They moved Paul George — who finished third in the MVP voting in 2018-19 — to the Los Angeles Clippers and received five first-round selections, two pick swaps, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari in return.

The Thunder then sent forward Jerami Grant to the Denver Nuggets for another first-round pick.

In the blink of an eye, the Thunder went from a team that seemed to have championship aspirations to a franchise entering a rebuild. Oklahoma City finished with a 49-33 record last season, had two stars on their roster long term and some solid surrounding talent around them, including Grant, Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder.

George, however, forced the Thunder's hand after he reportedly asked to be dealt in hopes of teaming up with Kawhi Leonard and the pair ended up together in Los Angeles.

After that trade, the Thunder needed to move in a different direction and they did quite well for themselves.

Oklahoma City acquired eight first-round picks over the last week and they should have the opportunity to draft plenty of young, controllable players to replenish their rotation. The team could also elect to package some of those picks in a deal for a different star, should one become available.

But, that is not all the Thunder added. Gilgeous-Alexander is a promising guard with plenty of upside. He could develop into a more than adequate replacement for Westbrook, with a much better contract.

Gallinari is a reliable three-and-D player on an expiring deal. If the Thunder elect to hold onto him, he will be a consistent contributor. If not, there is a good chance they can flip him for another pick or young player.

Paul, meanwhile, is a nine-time All-Star who still provides value as a scorer and distributor, despite the massive amount of money remaining on his contract (three years, $124.1million). He could still receive interest on the trade market and Oklahoma City could acquire additional assets if they decide to move him again.

Despite losing some of the league's biggest names, Thunder general manager Sam Presti has set his team up to be competitive in the future.

The Houston Rockets have acquired star guard Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to reports.

In an ESPN report, the Rockets have sent Chris Paul and first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 for the 2017 NBA MVP.

The teams have also swapped picks in 2021 and 2025 as Westbrook reunites with former Thunder team-mate and 2018 MVP James Harden.

After Paul George left the Thunder for the Los Angeles Clippers, eight-time All-Star Westbrook wanted to be sent to the Rockets.

Westbrook and Harden played together in Oklahoma City from 2009 to 2012 – the pair helping the Thunder reach the 2012 NBA Finals.

Last season, Westbrook averaged 22.9 points, 10.7 assists and 11.1 rebounds as the Thunder advanced to the playoffs before falling to the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round.

The NBA is going to look quite different in 2019-20.

After leading the Toronto Raptors to their first title, Kawhi Leonard will reportedly team up with Paul George at the Los Angeles Clippers next season.

It is a move that will reignite the rivalry with a much-changed Los Angeles Lakers, while the Golden State Warriors have seen Kevin Durant jump ship and move to the Eastern Conference.

We look at the teams with a 'big two' following a series of movements in an incredible offseason.

 

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

It was a big surprise when the Clippers took defending champions the Warriors to Game 6 in the playoffs, but they will undoubtedly be a better team next season.

The additions of Leonard and six-time All-Star George – although the latter came at a high price that included sending Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and five first-round draft picks, four of which are unprotected, and two pick swaps to the Oklahoma City Thunder – have created a new force in the Western Conference that will be looking to contend straight away.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Despite finally pulling off the acquisition of Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers freed up enough cap space for a run at Leonard.

However, they were unable to seal a deal with the NBA Finals MVP and will instead look to improve on LeBron James' disappointing first season by forming a truly formidable duo with Davis.

BROOKLYN NETS

Durant ruptured his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, but it did not lead to a reduction in interest in the Warriors star.

The 2014 MVP decided to end his time at Golden State and team up with Kyrie Irving at the Brooklyn Nets, who consequently captured two of the three biggest free agents on the market to step up their rebuild several notches.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

It looked as though the Warriors would dominate again when they signed DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year deal in the last offseason, despite the center being sidelined by an Achilles injury.

Cousins has not returned and with Durant out the door, Golden State will be relying on the backcourt tandem of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – reportedly on a five-year max contract – though trading for D'Angelo Russell could lighten the load.

HOUSTON ROCKETS

Having lost out to the Miami Heat in their reported pursuit of Jimmy Butler, the Rockets will go again with James Harden and Chris Paul leading the charge.

General manager Daryl Morey rejected reports of a rift between Harden and Paul, though he will be keen for the team to start winning as early as possible following a sluggish start in 2018-19.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

The Blazers made a stunning run to the Western Conference Finals before being swept by the Warriors.

They will hope to go one better after tying Damian Lillard down to a four-year contract extension in the offseason, ensuring his partnership with fellow sharpshooter CJ McCollum will continue.

Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul and Los Angeles Lakers' Rajon Rondo came to blows in a heated NBA clash at Staples Center. 

LeBron James made his home debut at Staples Center but it did not go according to plan after the Los Angeles Lakers lost a feisty game against the Houston Rockets. 

Day one of the NBA's free agency period saw a number of huge deals reportedly agreed, while Chris Paul confirmed he will remain with the Houston Rockets. 

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