By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The end of an era is likely coming Oklahoma City’s way, as all signs are officially pointing towards a summertime split between the Thunder and eight-time All-Star Russell Westbrook.
Based on conversations among player, agent and team, Oklahoma City for the first time is receptive toward trade calls on franchise star Russell Westbrook, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 8, 2019
After 11 years with the Thunder, Westbrook’s willingness to finally move on from OKC seems expected, especially with Paul George forcing his way out of Oklahoma City to join Kawhi Leonard with the Clippers last weekend. And three straight first-round exits in an ultra-loaded Western Conference that’s still somehow getting better. That’s without mentioning the fact that the Thunder failed to win a title with Westbrook and Kevin Durant on the same team, too, or when they had the Westbrook-Durant and James Harden three-headed monster that somehow went without a single NBA title to their name.
But with some straight-up stupid money owed his way over the next four seasons (over $171 million in total, actually), finding a potential suitor for the 30-year-old isn’t exactly the easiest job for Thunder general manager Sam Presti.
That’s not to suggest that there’s not a market for the 6-foot-3 guard who’s averaged a triple-double in three straight years.
In fact, two Eastern Conference teams — the Heat and Pistons — have already emerged as potential landing spots for Westbrook, according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick. It’s easy to build trade packages to send Westbrook to either city, and there’s no doubt that he’d help legitimize either squad — be it as Blake Griffin’s No. 2 in Detroit or with Jimmy Butler in Miami — in what is a ridiculously wide-open Eastern Conference thanks to Kawhi’s departure from the Raptors. Amick also noted that the Rockets could (somehow) be a team to watch in the Westbrook sweepstakes.
Now, would the Celtics be involved in these talks? It seems highly, highly, highly unlikely.
While Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has been interested in any and every superstar that’s hit the open market in recent years, Kemba Walker’s decision to come to Boston on a max contract already gives the Celtics the ball-dominant guard they need in the wake of Kyrie Irving’s departure.
Adding Westbrook, who attempted the eighth-most field goals in all of basketball last season (Walker was second), doesn’t necessarily help solve some of the Celtics’ issues from a season ago. Namely the obvious one of everybody trying to get theirs in terms of offensive touches and production.
There’s also the fact that Westbrook’s athleticism is the driving force of his entire game, and that you’d be paying the highest of dollars for that kind of style as Westbrook enters his early- and mid-30s.
…But is it too late to mention that Gordon Hayward and a bunch of junk for Westbrook works on the ESPN trade machine?