Westbrook's frustration appeared to have started with just three-and-a-half minutes remaining in the second quarter when he drove into the paint and kicked the ball out to Thabo Sefolosha in the corner. Sefolosha passed up a wide open three-pointer, which prompted Westbrook to yell at Sefolosha “shoot the (expletive) ball.”
While his teammates tried to settle him down, a minute later, Kevin Durant and Westbrook started into a shouting match.
Durant appeared to again settle Westbrook, but Westbrook appeared to take exception to how Durant delivered his message. The two began shouting at each other and had to be separated.
This is the second time there has been friction between the two, as they were having some issues during the postseason last year. In that case, as in this one, Westbrook seemed to be the instigator.
If this persists, then it could eventually force the Thunder into a trade. Westbrook continually seems to want to press himself into a role which is not his, where he can be the team leader. However, in Oklahoma City, that role belongs to Durant.
A friend of mine once said that the test of a leader is whether people follow. If his teammates don't want to follow him, Westbrook is clearly not the leader on this team.
The tensions could force the Thunder into looking for a trade. However, that could be problematic because of Westbrook's contract situation. His contract ends this year. While he'd be a restricted free agent, the issue is more to do with the money side of things. It's hard to find someone that could give the Thunder a similar value in return for his $5 million.
If they bundle Westbrook together with a minor role player, then Thunder could swap Westbrook for Rajon Rondo. It would give the Celtics what they need in more of a scoring point guard, as well as a player they can build around next year. It would also give the Thunder what they need, a player who has a ring and is one of the top facilitators in the NBA.
Of course, they'd rather that Westbrook grows up and accepts his role. If I could talk to him, I'd let him know there's no shame in being Scottie Pippen, but there is in being Stephon Marbury.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!