And they just got traded for each other.
The Rockets and Thunder exchanging Paul (nine All-Star selections) and Westbrook (eight All-Star selections) is a historic trade. It’s the first time players with even five All-Star selections each have been dealt for each other.
Here are the times players with at least four All-Star selections have been traded for each other (number of All-Star selections in parentheses):
2019: Chris Paul (9) to Thunder, Russell Westbrook (8) to Rockets
2009: Jermaine O’Neal (6) to Heat, Shawn Marion (4) to Raptors
2008: Shaquille O’Neal (14) to Suns, Shawn Marion (4) to Heat
2004: Alonzo Mourning (7) to Raptors, Vince Carter (4) to Nets
1957: Harry Gallatin (7) to Pistons, Mel Hutchins (4) to Knicks
Westbrook-Paul probably won’t be an enduring star-for-star trade. Paul hasn’t made an All-Star team in a few years, and I’d be surprised if the 34-year-old makes another.
In fact, none of the trades on that list held up as star-for-star trades with both players another All-Star team after the deal. In some of the cases, at least one of the players was clearly way past his prime.
Oklahoma City took Paul in order to get the accompanying draft picks, not for his ability to contribute. That says plenty about where Paul is now in his career.
But it’s still jarring to see big names like Paul and Westbrook traded for each other. This has never happened before.