After Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on Thursday night that the Thunder star had been traded to the Houston Rockets, ESPN colleague Royce Young revealed that reuniting with Harden was Westbrook's preferred option:
It doesn't appear as though Harden needed much convincing, either.
"I know how to play with Russ and he knows how to play with me," Harden told general manager Daryl Morey, per Lowe.
Though they have spent the last seven seasons battling for Western Conference supremacy, the two stars played three seasons together in OKC from 2009 to 2012. Along with Kevin Durant, they helped lead the Thunder to three consecutive postseason berths, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2012.
It's true Harden and Westbrook have previous experience playing together. However, it's worth noting those were different times.
Harden spent his OKC career coming off the bench averaging 12.7 points per game as Durant and Westbrook led the way. He has since transformed into a perennial MVP candidate in Houston, averaging 29.0 points in seven seasons for the Rockets, including a career-high 36.1 points per game last season.
Westbrook has also taken his game to another level, becoming the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double in three consecutive seasons.
Of note, Harden (39.6 percent) and Westbrook (30.1) each ranked in the top eight (minimum 70 games) in the league in usage rate last season.
Both Harden and Westbrook—each of whom now have MVP on their respective resumes—have grown accustomed to being the No. 1 option on their respective teams. Their previous time together is a plus, but there will likely still be a transition process as they try to mesh their playing styles.