Russell Westbrook’s time with the Oklahoma City Thunder is over, but he is leaving the franchise and the state with no bitterness.
FILE PHOTO: Basketball – NBA Global Games – Brooklyn Nets v Oklahoma City Thunder – Arena Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico December 7, 2017. Allen Crabbe of Brooklyn Nets and Russel Westbrook of Oklahoma City Thunder in action. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Westbrook was traded to the Houston Rockets on Thursday night in a deal that sent Chris Paul and two first-round draft picks to Oklahoma City. But he thanked the organization and the people of Oklahoma in an Instagram post on Friday night, saying he was “eternally grateful.”
“I can’t even begin to put into words all of the emotions I have right now,” Westbrook 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 teammates, the entire Thunder organization, 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.”
—Meanwhile, Paul is not expected to stay in the Sooner State for very long, as Oklahoma City is already exploring trades involving the nine-time All-Star point guard, ESPN reported.
The Miami Heat are reportedly at the top of potential destinations for the veteran, but there are a few other spots he could land. Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti is working with Paul’s representation to help find him a new home.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on Friday morning’s “Get Up” show that the Thunder did the deal with the intention that Paul never plays a game for the franchise.
—Free agent center Tyson Chandler, who spent most of last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, agreed to a one-year deal with the Rockets, multiple outlets reported.
The 36-year-old veteran set to begin his 19th season in the NBA will be playing for his eighth organization in the league, having started his career with the Chicago Bulls in 2001. He played for the world champion Dallas Mavericks during the 2010-11 season, and was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the 2011-12 season as a member of the New York Knicks.
After playing only seven games last season with the Phoenix Suns, the 7-foot-1 Chandler went to the Lakers and averaged 3.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 16.4 minutes a game over 48 games (six starts).
—The Philadelphia 76ers have signed free agent point guard Raul Neto and re-signed small forward James Ennis III, the team announced.
Ennis, 29, joined the 76ers after a trade from the Rockets in February and averaged 5.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 15.6 minutes in 18 games. The five-year vet has played for six teams since being taken 50th overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Neto, 27, was also originally drafted by the Hawks in 2013, but had spent his entire NBA career in Utah. He averaged 5.3 points and 2.5 assists in 12.8 minutes per game last season and figures to pick up backup point guard minutes in Philadelphia.
—The NBA is promoting referee Jason Phillips to lead its replay center as Replay Center Operations Principal. Joe Borgia, the current leader of the replay center, will move into a different role where he will oversee the implementation of coach’s challenges.
The board of governors voted earlier this week to approve the use of a coach’s challenge on a one-year trial basis next season.
Phillips has worked in the NBA for 19 seasons and has officiated nine Finals games. He was injured for most of the 2017-18 season, where he spent time in the replay center.
—The father of Boston Celtics rookie Tremont Waters was found dead Thursday, police in West Haven, Conn. reported.
The police say Edward Waters Jr., 49, was unresponsive when they responded to a call at a Super 8 hotel on Thursday around noon. Paramedics from the West Haven Fire Department later pronounced him dead.
No further details were released as the police consider it an untimely death and their investigation is ongoing.
—Field Level Media