Rockets ‘long shot’ to grab Westbrook

The Houston Rockets are among the teams interested in trading for Oklahoma City All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, sources with knowledge of the team’s thinking told ESPN.

One Rockets source, however, described trading for Westbrook as a “long shot” due to the challenge of finding pieces that fit with the Thunder or pulling off a complicated multiteam deal.

In the aftermath of the trade that sent Paul George to the LA Clippers, Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, engaged with Thunder general manager Sam Presti about the next step of the point guard’s career, including the possibility of a trade before next season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.

The Athletic reported that the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons also have interest in Westbrook, who averaged 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 10.9 assists last season, marking the third consecutive campaign he averaged a triple-double. The interest in Westbrook fits Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s pattern of aggressively pursuing superstars.

Houston landed Chris Paul in a sign-and-trade deal with the Clippers two years ago and attempted to add Jimmy Butler under similar circumstances this summer. Butler, however, did not meet with the Rockets before agreeing to a deal with the Miami Heat.

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Rockets also had interest in trading for Carmelo Anthony and George before the Thunder dealt for both during the 2017 offseason, and Houston signed Anthony for the veteran’s minimum after he was traded to Atlanta and received a buyout last summer.

As unlikely as it may be, a trade that sends Westbrook to Houston would reunite him with Harden, his former Thunder teammate and fellow recent MVP. The Rockets acquired Harden, a sixth man in Oklahoma City, in a trade just before the 2012-13 season after the Thunder decided they did not want to give him a maximum contract.

Westbrook won the MVP in a close vote over Harden in 2016-17, when the Thunder point guard averaged a league-leading 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists, joining Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season. Harden has won the scoring title the past two seasons and the MVP in 2017-18.

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