US basketball

Westbrook traded to Wizards for Wall, 1st-round pick

Westbrook traded to Wizards for Wall, 1st-round pick

WIZARDRY. Russell Westbrook takes his triple-double act to Washington.

Photo from NBA

(UPDATED) Russell Westbrook joins the Wizards as John Wall reunites with former college teammate DeMarcus Cousins in the Rockets roster

The Houston Rockets agreed to trade Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards in exchange for John Wall and a future first-round pick, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Thursday, December 3. 

Westbrook had requested for a trade 3 weeks ago after his team up with fellow MVP James Harden didn’t pan out as good as hoped. 

The Rockets, though, entered into a gamble with Wall, who did not play in the NBA last season due to an Achilles injury.

As the Rockets try another backcourt experiment, Wall will reunite with DeMarcus Cousins, his former college teammate at Kentucky.  

Westbrook, the 2016-2019 league MVP, averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.6 steals in his first season with the Rockets after averaging a triple-double in his final 3 seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Wizards, meanwhile, missed the playoffs in the last two seasons that saw the five-time All-Star Wall sidelined by various injuries, leaving Bradley Beal to carry most of the load. 

The trade ends a single season in Houston for the 32-year-old Westbrook, who spent the previous 11 years with the Thunder. 

After the underachieving Rockets were eliminated in this season’s playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers, head coach Mike D’Antoni decided to leave the team. Westbrook and James Harden then reportedly told the Rockets they wanted to be traded.

“Russell’s accomplishments and honors on the court speak for themselves, but his drive and will to win are what separate him as a truly unique player,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks, Westbrooks’ former Thunder coach. 

“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.”

Wall was originally the first overall pick by Washington in the 2010 entry draft.  

In 573 career games for the Wizards, he averaged 19.0 points, 9.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.70 steals. Wall joins Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history with career averages of at least 19.0 points per game, 9.0 assists per game, and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Over the past 6 seasons, Wall is the only player in the league to have averaged at least 20.0 ppg and 10.0 apg. The All-Star palyer ranks 6th in NBA history in assists per game and is second to Chris Paul among active players. 

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 Robertson’s 181. 

Westbrook is slated to make $41.4 million in 2020-2021.

“Having the opportunity to acquire a player of Russell’s caliber 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 organization and our community is immeasurable and will not be forgotten.” – with a report from Agence France-Presse