Signing Russell Westbrook to a long-term deal was the top priority in OKC after Kevin Durant left following the 2015-16 season, but now there are some around the league who believe the Oklahoma City Thunder should trade their superstar point guard.
ESPN's Zach Lowe revealed just that recently:
"There's an increasing number of people around the league who think the Thunder should look at trading [Russell] Westbrook. To be clear, not a report. Not Thunder sources think they should do this. Just in spitballing ideas with teams around the league, there's a number of people who have heard, just like, 'It's time for something to change here.'"
Westbrook signed a five-year, $205 million extension last September.
Ever since Durant bolted for the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook has made it his mission to carry the Thunder. He has become the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double in back-to-back seasons, winning MVP for his efforts in 2016-17.
This past season, the 6'3", 200-pound guard averaged 25.4 points, 10.3 assists and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Westbrook has been historically productive the past two seasons and has led his team to the postseason both years. However, some wonder if his propensity to play "hero ball" is doing more harm than good.
Oklahoma City had to fight to the wire to make the playoffs in 2017-18, despite having a Big Three of Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony (not to mention Steven Adams). Once the Thunder got to the postseason, it was a short stay—the Donovan Mitchell-led Utah Jazz eliminated Westbrook and Co. in six games in the first round.
The Thunder have now failed to advance in both of the last two postseasons, winning a total of three of the 11 games. It's hard to pin those struggles all on Westbrook, but as the leader of the team (and as someone who has averaged 28.5 shots per game during that stretch), he has received his share of the blame.
Lowe made it clear he was not reporting OKC was thinking about trading the face of its franchise. He was, however, noting that sources around the league believe the organization should at least consider shopping the seven-time All-Star.
Moving Westbrook likely isn't going to even be talked about within the Thunder organization this offseason. The team has other concerns, like George's impending free agency, to worry about.