Frustration has set in around the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise as the team’s acquisitions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony last summer only increased their win total by one game from the previous year. The conventional wisdom says that George and Carmelo simply weren’t the right pieces to place next to last year’s MVP, Russell Westbrook. But we are in an NBA era that craps all over conventional wisdom.
“There is an increasing number of people around the league who think the Thunder should look at trading Russell Westbrook,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his podcast. “To be clear – this is not Thunder sources but just spit-balling ideas with teams around the league that there’s a number of people that have heard that it’s time for something to change there. And my reaction to that is – no one should touch that contract with a 10-foot pole.”
Indeed, Westbrook’s contract is monstrous – as in, second largest in the NBA. Westbrook signed a five-year, $205 million extension with OKC last September.
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The Thunder’s most success obviously came with Westbrook playing the 1A role to Kevin Durant as the team nearly knocked off the Warriors two years ago and made a trip to the Western Conference Finals several years back against the Spurs. Obviously he’s not going to join Durant anywhere again – but there’s a certain No. 23 that plays in Cleveland right now that wouldn’t be a bad running-mate.
Westbrook, a native of Long Beach, California, had been linked to the Lakers in trade and free agency rumors for years before signing the massive deal. If Thunder GM Sam Presti is interested in a Westbrook-free future, then the Lakers would surely be one of the first teams he would talk to as Los Angeles has young, tradeable assets that they are ready to cash in on as well as cap space.
Fitting LeBron James and Westbrook under the cap together this offseason would make for some serious money juggling by the Lakers – but Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson would surely trade off the entire roster if it meant a shot at pairing LeBron and Westbrook together.