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Oklahoma City Thunder continue Russell Westbrook talks after trading Jerami Grant to Denver Nuggets

Monday 8 July 2019 18:16, UK

Russell Westbrook and Jerami Grant in action for the Oklahoma City Thunder
Image: Russell Westbrook and Jerami Grant in action for the Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell Westbrook's 11-year run in Oklahoma City could be coming to a close as the Thunder shift into rebuilding mode.

The latest move from Thunder general manager Sam Presti came Monday, when forward Jerami Grant was traded to the Denver Nuggets for a 2020 first-round pick. ESPN first reported the deal.

Moving Grant saves the Thunder $39m, according to ESPN.

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Grant, 25, averaged 13.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 80 games (77 starts) for the Thunder last season.

On the heels of sending 2019 MVP finalist Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for five future first-round picks and Danilo Gallinari and guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Presti opened talks with Westbrook and his representatives regarding the 30-year-old All Star's future with the franchise.

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The Thunder received three unprotected first-round picks from the Clippers - 2022, 2024 and 2026 - and two future Miami Heat first-round picks: a 2021 unprotected selection and the 2023 lottery protected pick.

Westbrook has four years and $170m left on his contract. The Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks and others are expected to have high interest in acquiring Westbrook, per ESPN.

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Russell Westbrook attacks the rim in Game 3 against Portland
Image: Russell Westbrook attacks the rim in Game 3 against Portland

Westbrook, an 11-year veteran, has spent his entire career in Oklahoma City, averaging 23.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 8.4 assists. He won the 2017 NBA MVP Award.

George shunned the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency last July to re-sign with the Thunder and form a one-two punch with Westbrook.

Paul George and Russell Westbrook celebrate during the Thunder's win against Brooklyn 2:50
Russell Westbrook supplied a triple-double to power the Oklahoma City Thunder to victory over the Brooklyn Nets

If the Rockets can find the right combination of draft compensation and contracts, a Westbrook deal to Houston would reunite former Thunder team-mates.

The Rockets acquired James Harden, a sixth man in Oklahoma City on a team fronted by Kevin Durant and Westbook, prior to the 2012-13 season after the Thunder opted not to offer Harden a maximum contract.

Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against the Golden State Warriors during Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on May 4, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Image: Chris Paul handles the ball against the Golden State Warriors

Among complications to resolve before that trade could be completed is the contract of Chris Paul, who is due $38.5m for next season and has three years remaining on his contract.

Minnesota were in hot pursuit of D'Angelo Russell before the Nets sent him to the Golden State Warriors via sign-and-trade.

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The Knicks have trade assets that would seem to meet Oklahoma City's rebuild. However, none of the players they signed in free agency and RJ Barrett, the third overall pick in the 2019 Draft, could not be part of any trade until December 15.

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