Hamidou Diallo’s immediate reaction to Russell Westbrook trade to Rockets
LAS VEGAS – Hamidou Diallo was informed of the news immediately after wrapping up a 14 point, seven rebound performance for the Oklahoma City Thunder. His team just grabbed a big Summer League victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. However, the focus of Diallo’s postgame interview was the trade of Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets.
“I feel like none of us are really worried about it,” said Diallo about having both Westbrook and Paul George traded within a week. “We’re out here to try and take care of our tasks and that’s to play basketball. That’s our first objective and that’s the first focus for me and my teammates. To go out there, and get W’s and play the game that the coaches and the front office wants to see us play.”
The players on the Thunder’s Summer League team are competing for a roster spot once training camp begins as well as an NBA roster spot once the regular season begins. The shockwaves of trading their two best players, one a franchise favorite and community activist, could be immediately felt among their former teammate.
“I mean, that’s my vet,” added Diallo as he recalled memories with Westbrook. “That’s my vet. I was really close to him. It’s alright, though. I guess that’s what he wanted to do. I’m happy for him, and hopefully he has a good season with Houston.
“Basketball now, playing at this level, is a business. That’s what comes with it. When you sign that paperwork, you know that’s what’s coming with it. Like I said, me personally, I just come in and attack each and every day and prepare for anything.”
Diallo and Westbrook built a connection throughout the 2018-19 season. As the backup guard off the bench, Diallo looked to Westbrook for advice and leadership. Diallo even had Westbrook assist him on one of his dunks during the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend.
The second-year guard out of Kentucky appeared in 51 games for the Thunder in his first NBA season, averaging just 3.7 points and 1.9 rebounds in just 10 minutes off the bench. With both Westbrook and George gone now, however, Diallo’s role will certainly increase moving forward.
Diallo detailed some of the good traits about Westbrook as a teammate and what he plans to take from him to apply to his own game moving forward.
“He’s a great player. Great player, great role model first I would say. Taught me a lot of things this year. And everything he taught me, I’m just gonna keep taking with me each and every day and keep trying to become the best player that I can be. Just everything that comes with being a pro. From having a back-to-back, being the first guy in the gym. Just showing that it takes hard work to be at the level that he’s at. For me, watching that for a year is great and I took a lot of things and hopefully I can implement them into my every day routine, some things that i’ve seen him do for sure.
“I’ve seen it inside the locker room, outside the locker room, on the court. He’s a great person, great role model, and I’m happy for him and his family.”
Westbrook will now continue his NBA career with the Rockets after spending his first 11 seasons with the Thunder. Diallo, on the other hand, will be teaming up with former college teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Thunder acquired Gilgeous-Alexander from the LA Clippers in the Paul George trade on July 5th.
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