Russell Westbrook is set to join James Harden at the Houston Rockets, and fans are understandably pretty excited about the prospect. As Yahoo Sports reports, however, the trade that facilitated this team-up wasn't exactly the most elegant. Sources close to the league explained that Chris Paul, who was traded to Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Westbrook, was moved from the team because Harden himself wanted him gone.
"James made this fucking happen," a source explained. "He wanted Chris up out of there."
There's been a lot of reports indicating that there's been some tension between Harden and Paul, but ever since the rumors started to surface they both tried to play it down. Yet this source confirms they had a lot of issues. Houston veteran P.J. Tucker even called the reports "fake news."
Harden and Westbrook previously played together for OKC from 2009 to 2012, so the trade marks a reunion for the two of them. It has been indicated that even though Paul and Harden had their issues, they played better together than Westbrook and Harden ever did. Regardless, sources in the league remain hopeful that the trade will be beneficial to the Rockets going forward.
"When I left OKC I was sad," Harden said after news of the trade broke. "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."
James Harden on Westbrook trade: "When I left OKC I was sad. 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.“ pic.twitter.com/tBhAxDq5uQ— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) July 12, 2019
"I love everything [Westbrook] stands for from a competitive standpoint,” a league executive explained. “He never cheats the game. He gives you a shot each and every night. I have great respect for that and that’s made him the player he is today.”