When Kevin Durant left in 2016, Russell Westbrook was expected to turn into a better player as the Oklahoma City Thunder’s lone superstar. The predictions proved to be right as Westbrook was named as 2017 Most Valuable Player after averaging 31.6 points, 10.3 assists, and 10.1 rebounds.
After an explosive 2016-17 NBA season, most people believe the Thunder would be a legitimate title contender if Russell Westbrook would be surrounded by other superstars. In 2017 offseason, Thunder General Manager Sam Presti made surprising moves and succeeded to bring Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in Oklahoma City. The “Big Three” of Westbrook, George, and Anthony made the Thunder one of the favorite teams to the dethrone the Golden State Warriors.
Unfortunately, George and Anthony struggled to make themselves fit playing alongside Westbrook, resulting for them to suffer an early exit in Western Conference Playoffs. Now that the season is officially over for the Thunder, Oklahoma City will start to be filled with rumors and speculations. One of the craziest rumors currently circulating is the possibility that the Thunder could trade Russell Westbrook this summer.
According to Zach Lowe of ESPN (h/t Bleacher Report), members of opposing teams believe the Thunder should move Westbrook in the upcoming offseason.
“There is an increasing number of people around the league who think the Thunder should look at trading Westbrook. To be clear [this is] not a report, not Thunder sources think they should do this … in spitballing ideas with teams around the league, there’s a number of people who I’ve heard [say]: It’s time for something to change there.”
Dwight Howard says Russell Westbrook should have sacrificed more (via @GetUpESPN).
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) May 8, 2018
If the Thunder really make Russell Westbrook available on the trading block, the Cleveland Cavaliers would be foolish not to explore the possibility of adding him to their team. If the Cavaliers fail to win an NBA championship title this season, multiple NBA rumors suggested that LeBron James will leave his hometown team for the second time. Bringing a player of Westbrook’s caliber may convince James to stay and spend the rest of his NBA career in Cleveland.
However, trading for Westbrook would be expensive. The only player on the Cavaliers’ roster that may persuade the Thunder to engage in a trade discussion is Kevin Love. They may also need to add the Brooklyn Nets 2018 first-round pick to sweeten the deal.
Westbrook may have struggled to build good chemistry with other superstars, and that could be one of the main reasons why Kevin Durant chose to leave the Thunder. However, teaming up with the best player on the planet could help him break that curse. He can learn many things while playing alongside LeBron James, who most people think is the type of player that makes his teammates better.
Seeing Russell Westbrook and LeBron James playing together in one team is still far from becoming a reality. Also, since Westbrook signed a massive extension last summer, the Thunder could not engage him in any trade discussion until September 28, 2018.