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Oklahoma City acquires Chris Paul, two first-round draft picks and the right to two pick swaps

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OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Thunder has acquired guard Chris Paul, two first-round draft picks (2024 and 2026) and the right to two first-round pick swaps (2021 and 2025) from the Houston Rockets in exchange for guard Russell Westbrook, it was announced Tuesday by Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

“We recently had conversations with Russell about the team, his career, and how he sees the future. 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,” said Presti. “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.

“Russell Westbrook is the most important player in the brief history of the Oklahoma City Thunder. 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. Russell and his wife Nina, their three children, his brother and his parents will always remain part of the Thunder family. We wish them nothing but happiness and success in the future.”
 
During his 11 seasons with the Thunder, Westbrook appeared in 821 games (804 starts) and averaged 23.0 points, 8.4 assists, 7.0 rebounds and 1.76 steals in 34.5 minutes per game. He earned 2016-17 NBA MVP honors after becoming the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double over a season.

The eight-time All-Star and two-time All-Star Game MVP is the all-time Thunder leader in scoring (18,859), assists (6,897), rebounds (5,760) and steals (1,442). He is the only player in NBA history to lead the league in scoring and assists during multiple seasons.
 
Originally selected fourth overall in the 2008 NBA Draft, Westbrook helped lead the Thunder to the third-best record in the NBA during his 11 seasons with the team. Oklahoma City’s nine playoff appearances this past decade rank as the second most in the NBA during this span.

“I have a great deal of respect for Russell and there is no way to adequately describe our appreciation for what he has meant to Oklahomans,” said Thunder Chairman Clayton I. Bennett. “His legacy here is immense, and he will be honored by the team for all he has done. We wish he and Nina and their family all the best. While this era of Thunder basketball now comes to an end, I’m confident our talented team of people will once again position the Thunder for success in the future.”
 
In 14 NBA seasons with the New Orleans and Oklahoma City Hornets, the LA Clippers and the Rockets, Paul has appeared in 950 games (all starts) and averaged 18.5 points, 9.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.23 steals in 35.1 minutes.
 
A nine-time All-Star, Paul has been named to the All-NBA team on eight occasions, led the league in steals six times and assists four times. He has also been named to nine NBA All-Defensive Teams. Paul is the only player in NBA history to average at least 18.0 points, 9.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals.

The North Carolina native is the NBA active leader in assists (9,181) and steals (2,122) and ranks seventh and ninth all-time in each category, respectively. Drafted fourth overall in the 2005 NBA Draft out of Wake Forest, Paul was named the 2005-06 NBA Rookie of the Year.
 
“Getting a player of Chris’ caliber 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,” said Presti. “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.”
 
As part of the transaction, the Thunder receives two protected first-round picks (2024 and 2026) from the Rockets (both picks are 1-4 protected). Additionally, Oklahoma City secures the right to first-round pick swaps with Houston in 2021 and 2025.

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Report: Pau Gasol to join Trail Blazers

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Free agent center Pau Gasol has agreed to a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gasol, 39, who was limited to just 30 games last season because of a variety of injuries, has career averages of 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds over 17 NBA seasons.



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Report: Furkan Korkmaz returning to 76ers

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Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, agent Mike Lindeman of Excel Sports tells ESPN.

Korkmaz, 21, brings back a rotational forward with the ability to spread the floor with his shooting. The loss of JJ Redick in free agency – and Kyle Korver’s decision to choose Milwaukee over Philadelphia – brought some increased urgency to keep Korkmaz on the Sixers roster.

 The 21-year-old Korkmaz, who was the 26th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, averaged 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 14.1 minutes last season.

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Report: Kevin Love to withdraw from World Cup

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Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is the latest player expected to withdraw from Team USA’s training camp for the FIBA World Cup, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

This news comes just one day after Damian Lillard reportedly withdrew from the World Cup. Love, who played in just 22 games last season because of a shoulder injury, averaged 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds in 2018-19.

During the previous two weeks, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum reportedly decided not to compete in the World Cup this year.

Although the guard ranks will be somewhat depleted of NBA stars, Team USA continues to have a deep pool of players available.



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