The writing is on the wall no matter how anyone tries to spin it. Russell Westbrook is on his way out of Oklahoma City. The sad part is, it’s not by his choosing. He did say that he wasn’t going to sign an extension this year, but that came after his former teammate Kevin Durant left to sign with the Golden State Warriors.
His feelings are hurt and rightfully so, whether its due to Durant’s decision or because of Sam Presti’s unwillingness to do whatever it took to keep Durant there. Bottom line is Westbrook days as a Thunder are numbered.
Where will he end up is the million dollar question. There are plenty of teams that could use his services, let’s get it out the way now and say that the Warriors are not one of them. What team wouldn’t want (IMO) the best PG in the NBA? The best part about writing this article are the possibilities where he can play. Remember that Westbrook is a free agent after this season and if the Thunder cannot swing a trade they are in BIG trouble. If t
hey let this linger on throughout the season and he walks they are left with nothing, like Durant and the James Harden situation. OKC already has their hands tied but now every team is on the prowl knowing the Thunder are desperate. If they wait until the trade deadline they may be shooting themselves in the foot.
For arguments sake let’s say Westbrook has the team playing playoff basketball, looking at a high seed, what do you do then? Do you let him play it out in holes of wining a championship then pray he changes his mind or trade him during this hot run and risk missing the playoffs altogether?
Like I said teams know they are desperate and will offer up anything, or close to nothing for a team that has to move him. Here is a look at five teams that should realistically put in an offer for Westbrook.
Los Angeles Lakers:
The Lakers have the young talent to offer the Thunder for Westbrook. D’Angelo Russell will easily slide into the starting PG spot for OKC but what if they require more than the young guard? The Lakers picks are spread over the league and they have no idea even with a losing season if they will even get to pick.
Westbrook is a California kid as he was born there and went to high school and college, so this will be a Homecoming for him. He will instantly be the new face of a struggling franchise which the Lakers so desperately need. A package of Russell, Larry Nance and a draft pick could work if the Thunder get desperate enough.
The Celtics have been the rumored destination for the past week and for good reason. The can offer Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and a starting Center for Westbrook, plus they have draft picks that may turn out to be the top pick in next year’s drat thanks in large part to the Brooklyn Nets. Pairing Westbrook with Avery Bradley and Al Horford will be great, add that he will be in a weaker conference in the East and Russell may enjoy this trade.
The Cavs are fresh off a championship and Kyrie Irving was a huge reason for that but if they have a chance to swap the two the Cavs need to do so without hesitation. Westbrook as an all-around better player than Irving and can do wonders for floor spacing. Can you imagine a team that will feature Westbrook, LeBron James and Kevin Love? This trade may seem foolish to some but talent wise this may be the best solution for the Thunder if they are looking for a player that can come in and produce at a high rate straight off bat.
Don’t laugh, this is a real possibility here. The 76ers are full of potential with picks and money to throw around. If they are willing to part with a future first round pick or two this can be done. The 76ers have talent to offer as well. Nerlens Noel could be a choice but that’s like having Serge Ibaka back in uniform.
If I was running the Thunder I would ask about the availability of Jahlil Okafor. Okafor and two 1st rounders or an early second rounder is quite doable for a team that must move their star player. Think about how quick the 76ers stock will rise, not only for this season but next as high-profile players like Durant will be back on the market. Westbrook will be a great free agent draw.
This is a trade that needs to happen. Westbrook for Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and possibly a 2nd rounder will work for both sides. The Thunder get a quality PG in return and place LaVine or either Victor Olidapo at the SF, plus get another pick for next year. Pairing Westbrook with Karl- Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins may instantly put them in the semi-finals of the Western Conference.
There are other teams that can use a talent like Westbrook and there are others that have no use for him at all. But the kicker for the rest of the league is that the Thunder are desperate and must get something in return or he will walk away and they will be left with nothing. This will be interesting to watch as the drama unfolds, my guess is that we will not suit up ever again for the Thunder and will be playing in either Los Angeles or Boston come the start of the season.