Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti refuted any negative sentiment towards former star Kevin Durant.

Presti addressed Durant's criticism of how bad the split was when it comes to the Thunder's fan base – the two-time NBA champion left Oklahoma City for the Golden State Warriors in 2016.

Durant went as far as saying he did not trust anyone at the Thunder and "that s*** must have been fake". 

The two-time NBA Finals MVP called out the franchise and Presti saying, "I ain't talked to none of those people, even had a nice exchange with those people, since I left".

However, Thunder GM Presti told reporters: "If there is anything that Kevin Durant ever, ever needed from me or from anyone here, it would be a moment's notice for that to happen.

"I also think if you work with people for eight years like we did, he and I — he was 19 when he came into the NBA, I was 29. We both went through a lot of changes together, and I have nothing but positive things to say about him and his tenure here.

"You've asked me that in the past. You've asked me that today. You can ask me that in the future if something like this comes up again. I'm never going to change that tune because that's how I feel."

Durant spent nine seasons with the Thunder before becoming a free agent and signing with the Warriors.

The 10-time All-Star ended up playing three seasons with the Warriors, earning back-to-back NBA titles, but signed with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency over the offseason. He is expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season with a torn Achilles.

"I would always be there if he needed anything from me, and I truthfully believe ... it would be reciprocated, as well," Presti added.

Kevin Durant said he hates the "circus" surrounding the NBA as he opened up on his respective exits from the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors.

Durant ended a three-season stint with the Warriors at the end of the last campaign, switching to the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent on a four-year deal.

The 30-year-old, a 10-time All-Star, joined Golden State from the Thunder, where he spent nine campaigns – including one as a rookie at the Seattle SuperSonics before the franchise's move to Oklahoma – going on to win the championship with the Warriors in 2017 and 2018.

However, Durant believes the media speculation and fan furore around the NBA made his decision to leave the Warriors more acrimonious than it needed to be.

"It didn't feel as great as it could have been," Durant told the Wall Street Journal. "Some days I hate the circus of the NBA. Some days I hate that the players let the NBA business, the fame that comes with the business, alter their minds about the game.

"Sometimes I don't like being around the executives and politics that come with it. I hate that.

"We talk about mental health a lot... we only talk about it when it comes to players. We need to talk about it when it comes to executives, media, fans."

Durant believes a similar uproar surrounded his move to the Warriors in 2016, claiming he does not trust the Thunder's hierarchy. 

"I'll never be attached to that city again because of that," Durant said of Oklahoma City.

"I eventually wanted to come back to that city and be part of that community and organisation, but I don't trust nobody there. 

"The organisation, the [general manager], I ain't talked to none of those people, even had a nice exchange with those people, since I left.

"People coming to my house and spray-painting on the for-sale signs around my neighbourhood. People making videos in front of my house and burning my jerseys and calling me all types of crazy names."

Durant also explained that he left Golden State because he could not relate to many of his team-mates.

"As time went on, I started to realise I'm just different from the rest of the guys," Durant said. 

"It's not a bad thing. Just my circumstances and how I came up in the league. And on top of that, the media always looked at it like KD and the Warriors. So it's like nobody could [fully accept] me there."

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 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.

Russell Westbrook paid tribute to the Oklahoma City Thunder after being traded to the Houston Rockets.

After being drafted as the fourth overall pick in 2008 by the then-Seattle SuperSonics, Westbrook spent his entire career in Oklahoma City after the team moved before his first official year.

Westbrook won the MVP in 2017, averaged a triple-double each of his past two seasons and made eight All-Star teams.

He was traded by the Thunder to the Rockets on Thursday in a package for Chris Paul.

But, Westbrook has good memories with the Thunder and he penned a heartfelt goodbye on Instagram on Friday.

"I can't even begin to put into words all of the emotions I have right now," he 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 team-mates, the entire Thunder organisation, 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."

Westbrook rejoins former team-mate James Harden in Houston after the two played the 2009 to 2012 seasons together in Oklahoma City.

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.

The Oklahoma City Thunder will be making a lot of first-round picks over the coming years after trading away Paul George and Russell Westbrook.

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

Westbrook was the second top-level player the Thunder sent away this offseason. They moved 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 total, Oklahoma City have added eight first-round picks this offseason and hold 15 over the next seven drafts.
 

Here's a complete list of the Thunder's first-round picks from 2020 to 2026.

2020: Own (1-20), Nuggets (1-10)

2021: Own, Miami Heat (swap rights with the Houston Rockets)

2022: Own (1-14), Clippers

2023: Own (swap rights with the Clippers), Heat (1-14)

2024: Own, Clippers, Rockets (1-4)

2025: Own (swap rights with the Clippers, Rockets)

2026: Own, Clippers, Rockets (1-4)

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 NBA world was shocked again on Thursday as the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder reportedly completed a blockbuster trade involving Russell Westbrook.

According to ESPN, the Rockets sent Chris Paul and draft picks to the Thunder in exchange for 2017 NBA MVP Westbrook.

This is a huge deal for the Western Conference as Houston boasts a similar team to what they had last season but became younger and more athletic in the process.

Rockets fans can dream about the potential of this tandem, however it is not an idea that is foreign. In fact, we have seen this combination before as Harden and Westbrook were drafted by the Thunder and played together from 2009-12 and made an NBA Finals alongside Kevin Durant in their last season together.

So, what did those teams look like in Oklahoma City? They looked great, we will tell you that.

With Westbrook, the Thunder had a high-energy point guard who was unstoppable going to the rim and a terror on defense. With Durant, Oklahoma City had the player who could get any shot he wanted and presented a mismatch every time he was on the court. Harden was the sixth man for that team as he provided a solid scoring option and a better defender than people may remember (he was given the job of guarding LeBron James in the 2012 NBA Finals for long stretches).

On March 23, 2012 – the three combined to score 110 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Harden and Westbrook totalled 70.

As good as they were as a team, though, a lot of people did not take them seriously. That was until they dominated the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. After losing the first two games, they came back to win the last four by an average of nearly 10 points (9.75).

In that series, the big three dominated as Westbrook averaged 18.1 points, 7.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds, Harden put up 18.5, 5.5 and 3.6 while Durant added 29.5, 5.3 and 7.5. This was the team to beat for years to come.

They wound up losing to the Miami Heat in the Finals in five games, but they won the opener, and had it not been for a missed foul call in the waning moments of Game 2, the Thunder might have taken a 2-0 series lead and then, who knows?

This team was the Golden State Warriors before the Warriors and Harden and Westbrook were huge parts of that. It looked like it was going to be a dynasty for years to come in the west, but that was until Harden was due for an extension and more money.

Ultimately, the Thunder did not pay Harden and he was dealt to Houston along with Daequan Cook, Cole Aldrich and Lazar Hayward in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks (which became Steven Adams in 2013 and Mitch McGary in 2014), and a second-round pick (which became Alex Abrines in 2013).

Harden then went on to win an MVP with Houston in 2018, Westbrook won it with the Thunder in 2017 and Durant earned the honour in 2014. Now, two of those players are back together. Durant is the only one to have a title (he won two with the Warriors), but Westbrook and Harden can see if they can get one they so highly covet.

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 Oklahoma City Thunder appear to have entered rebuild mode - and Russell Westbrook could be the next star out the door.

With Kawhi Leonard having persuaded Paul George to leave the Thunder and join him at the Los Angeles Clippers, eight-time All-Star Westbrook is understood to be open to the idea of ending his stay with the franchise.

The 30-year-old point guard, who has undergone a series of operations on his right knee, could prove difficult to move on, though. He has four years and over $160million remaining on the mammoth contract extension he signed in September 2017.

Still, we take a look at the teams that could offer Westbrook a new home.

 

New York Knicks

After trading away franchise player Kristaps Porzingis, losing out on top free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to the Brooklyn Nets and missing the chance to draft Zion Williamson, the Knicks will no doubt be keen to get a star on board.

They would have to wait until December to put together a package including players who they have recently signed, however.

 

Miami Heat

Having already signed Jimmy Butler in free agency, Miami is understood to be a destination that appeals to Westbrook.

The Heat have already got Hassan Whiteside off their books and could offer the favourable contracts of talented duo Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow, but a lack of draft capital to offer may prove troublesome.

 

Detroit Pistons

A move for Westbrook would likely require the Pistons' All-Star center Andre Drummond to head the other way. Still, Detroit's issue is the other salaries they could use in any deal; those contracts run for longer than the Thunder will surely have in mind for any new arrivals.

However, combining the former MVP with Blake Griffin would offer them a greater chance of success in a much-changed Eastern Conference.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves reportedly narrowly missed out on signing D'Angelo Russell, who joined the Golden State Warriors in a sign-and-trade deal that sent Durant to the Nets.

Exchanging Andrew Wiggins' contract, which has four years and more than $120m remaining, for Westbrook undoubtedly presents them an improved chance of contending this season.

Yet such an agreement would again rely on significant draft picks being offered.

 

Other contenders

Putting Westbrook on a team with two other ball-dominant players in James Harden and Chris Paul sounds like a crazy idea, but that has not stopped the Houston Rockets reportedly taking an interest. The Cleveland Cavaliers are expected to trade Kevin Love and focus on a rebuild at some stage, though they could scrap that and pair him with Westbrook to make themselves relevant once again.

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