Basketball: Rockets trade Westbrook to Wizards for Wall, pick

Basketball: Rockets trade Westbrook to Wizards for Wall, pick

(REUTERS) – The Houston Rockets made a blockbuster deal on Wednesday (Dec 2) night, trading disgruntled Russell Westbrook to Washington for John Wall in an exchange of National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star point guards, the Wizards announced.

The Rockets also received a lottery-protected first-round draft pick.

According to The Athletic, the draft choice is for 2023.

Westbrook reportedly became dismayed with the direction of the organisation after the recent departure of coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey.

Rockets star James Harden also reportedly wants out.

Westbrook averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and seven assists in 57 games with the Rockets in his one season with the franchise.

He was acquired from Oklahoma City as part of a deal that sent point guard Chris Paul to the Thunder in July 2019.

The nine-time All-Star was NBA MVP for the 2016-17 season when he posted a record 42 triple-doubles.

Westbrook averaged a league-leading 31.6 points that season to go with 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game.

The Wednesday trade also reunites Westbrook with Scott Brooks, who was the Thunder coach for all but 13 games of Westbrook’s first seven seasons with that franchise.

“Russell’s accomplishments and honours on the court speak for themselves, but his drive and will to win are what separate him as a truly unique player,” Brooks said in a news release.

“As much as I’m looking forward to reuniting with him, I’m equally sad to say goodbye to John. He is one of the toughest and most gifted players I’ve ever been around and we all wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”

Westbrook has career averages of 23.2 points, 8.3 assists and 7.1 rebounds in 878 games (861 starts).

He has 146 career triple-doubles, which ranks second all-time behind Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson’s 181.

Westbrook, who turned 32 last month, is slated to make US$41.4 million (S$55.38 million) in 2020-21 and US$44.2 million in 2021-22.

He has a player option worth US$47 million for 2022-23.

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Wall, 30, is set to earn US$41.25 million this season and US$44.3 million in 2021-22 with a player option worth US$47.4 million in 2022-23.

Wall, a five-time All-Star, has not played in a game since December 2018 due to injuries.

He missed the entire 2019-20 season because of a ruptured left Achilles tendon.

The Achilles injury occurred in at accident at home in February 2019 while he was recovering from left heel surgery.

Keeping Wall healthy has been a chore in recent seasons as he has also endured two surgeries on his left knee and one on his right knee since the end of the 2015-16 season.

Wall has career averages of 19 points, 9.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 573 contests (561 starts).

Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, is Washington’s all-time leader in steals (976) and assists (5,282) and ranks fourth in points (10,879).

“Having the opportunity to acquire a player of Russell’s calibre and character was something that we could not pass up when looking at both the immediate and long-term future of our team,” Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said.

“With that said, the decision to part ways with John, one of the greatest players in franchise history, was extremely difficult. What he has meant to our organisation and our community is immeasurable and will not be forgotten.”