Russell Westbrook, Rudy Gay, and Ben McLemore all have something in common: they’ve been the subject of persistent NBA trade rumors this off-season. In an ironic twist, the latest spin of the rumor mill has them being traded for each other.
According to ESPN Radio, the Sacramento Kings have emerged as a primary destination for Russell Westbrook. The Thunder are continuing to explore their options regarding Westbrook in the aftermath of superstar Kevin Durant leaving to join the Golden State Warriors. The Kings are attempting to appease star center DeMarcus Cousins by adding to the talent pool around him in Sacramento.
It seems unlikely that the Oklahoma City Thunder would accept an offer of Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore for Westbrook, but Sacramento has other assets that could sweeten the pot. The Kings could dangle future draft choices as part of the package, and they have some young talent to offer as well. If DeMarcus Cousins were to remain in Sacramento, the Kings could part with either of their young centers, Willie Cauley-Stein or Georgios Papagiannis. Three of those players plus a future first-round pick would make for an enticing trade offer.
All of this hinges on the status of Westbrook, who has reportedly been on the trading block since Durant’s departure. The Thunder feel they cannot afford to lose him in free agency too, and his contract will expire at the end of next season. Those around the league feel that if Oklahoma City allows Westbrook to play out his contract, he’ll bolt for greener pastures, much as Durant did this summer. The Thunder are attempting to sign Westbrook to a contract extension, but they realize that if they are not successful in extending their star point guard, they need to consider potential trade opportunities.
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The Sacramento Kings aren’t certain what their strategy should be moving forward, as reported by Yahoo! Sports. They have considered moving Cousins as part of a rebuilding effort, but they are also looking at options that include keeping Cousins and building around him. So far, talks to deal Cousins have not resulted in any strong offers, so the Kings are seeing if acquiring another star to play next to the enigmatic big man might be the better course of action.
Russell Westbrook is an eight-year NBA veteran and a five-time NBA All-Star. His value on the trade market is extremely high after topping out at 28.1 points per game in 2014-15, and having perhaps his best all-around season in 2015-16, averaging 23.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 10.4 assists per contest. Westbrook is a dynamic talent who can take a game over by himself, and that’s something he will do even more often if he stays with Oklahoma City this coming year.
Rudy Gay is a high-scoring small forward who is best known for his proficient mid-range offensive game. He scored a career-high 21.1 points per game for Sacramento two years ago, but his average fell off to 17.2 points per game last season. Gay simply didn’t mesh well with his teammates last season, which is one of the reasons the team is interested in moving him.
Ben McLemore was the 7th overall choice in the 2013 NBA Draft, but he has failed to live up to expectations during his first three NBA seasons. His shooting has been erratic and despite his athletic talent, the Kings are beginning to question whether McLemore should be part of their long-term plans. He played mostly as a starter for Sacramento last season, tallying 7.8 points per contest.
What do think of the latest NBA trade rumors involving the Thunder and the Kings? Do you think this deal would benefit both teams?
[Photo by Lance Murphey/AP Images]