After two years of playing together, Paul George decided to part ways with Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. When George expressed his desire to leave, the Thunder were left with no choice but to trade him this summer. The Thunder ended up sending George to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and multiple future first-round picks.
With the core of Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder remain a legitimate playoff contender in the Western Conference next season. However, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Thunder are now exploring the possibility of trading Westbrook and undergoing a full-scale rebuild. With no clear path to title contention, it might be best for Westbrook and the Thunder to go their separate ways.
In the potential deal involving Russell Westbrook, the Thunder are expected to demand a trade package including young players and future draft picks in order to speed up the rebuilding process. Once Westbrook officially becomes available on the trading block, one of the NBA teams that could express strong interest in acquiring him is the Minnesota Timberwolves. According to Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated, the Thunder and the Timberwolves could engage in a trade discussion involving Westbrook and Andrew Wiggins.
“If the George trade is a true indicator the Thunder wish to get younger, Minnesota could be one of their first calls. A potential deal would be simple. Andrew Wiggins could still be a franchise building block despite a disappointing 2018-19 campaign and salary matching wouldn’t be as tricky with Minnesota as other teams. The former No. 1 pick would mark a solid return for Westbrook, pairing Wiggins and Gilgeous-Alexander as the backcourt of the future along with the Thunder’s newfound treasure chest of picks.”
— USA TODAY NBA (@usatodaynba) July 7, 2019
The potential blockbuster deal that would send Russell Westbrook to Minnesota in exchange for a trade package centered on Andrew Wiggins would be beneficial for both the Thunder and the Timberwolves. Westbrook would give the Timberwolves a massive upgrade at the point guard position.
Last season, the 30-year-old floor general averaged 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 10.7 assists, and 1.9 steals on 42.9 percent shooting from the field, and 29.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Pairing a triple-double machine like Westbrook with Karl-Anthony Towns would boost the Timberwolves’ chance of returning to the Western Conference Playoffs next season.
Meanwhile, Andrew Wiggins would give the Thunder a centerpiece in the title-contending team that they will try to build in the post-Russell Westbrook era. Wiggins may have failed to live up to expectations from a No. 1 overall pick, but being in a new environment where he can potentially be the main man could help him speed up his development into a legitimate NBA superstar in the league.