Despite the addition of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony last summer, the Oklahoma City Thunder once again suffered an early elimination in the Western Conference Playoffs. With their goal to win an NBA championship title, the Thunder are expected to be busy in the upcoming offseason, and re-signing George could be their top priority. However, Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead opens up the possibility that the Thunder might consider parting ways with Russell Westbrook this summer.
Russell Westbrook officially became the face of the Thunder’s franchise when Kevin Durant left in free agency to join the Golden State Warriors. His MVP performance was obviously not enough to carry the Thunder to the NBA Finals. Even with the acquisition of Anthony and George, the Thunder were still easily eliminated by the Donovan Mitchell-led Utah Jazz in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs.
McIntyre believes Thunder General Manager Sam Presti will once again try to build around Westbrook in the upcoming offseason. Unfortunately, they have only limited options to upgrade their roster. Instead of trying to build a title contending team with Westbrook at the center, McIntyre suggested that the Thunder should explore trading him and his lucrative contract to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Five shots per game: the challenge of Russell Westbrook, and Oklahoma City's journey here: https://t.co/1ZlIDYlXF8
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) April 30, 2018
In the suggested trade scenario, the Thunder will be sending Russell Westbrook to the Clippers for Danilo Gallinari, Tobias Harris, and two 2018 first-round picks. The deal is undeniably a no-brainer for the Clippers. Westbrook, together with DeAndre Jordan, can make the Clippers a legitimate playoff contender once again. Having a superstar LA native will definitely boost the Clippers ability to sell tickets.
Meanwhile, for the Thunder, Gallinari and Harris will take the role as OKC’s starting forwards. The Thunder could use the picks to speed up the rebuilding process where they could potentially land Alabama point guard Collin Sexton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from Kentucky. However, it remains questionable if those trade assets are enough to convince the Thunder to make a deal.
Also, the Thunder could not engage Russell Westbrook in any trade discussion until September 28, 2018, because of the massive contract extension he signed last year. If the Thunder decide to make him available on the trade market, several NBA teams will surely make a more interesting offer just to add him to their team.