Russell Westbrook Rumors: Thunder to Talk Possible Trade After Paul George Deal

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2019

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook interacts with the crowd during the first half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Sunday, April 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
Steve Dipaola/Associated Press

The Oklahoma City Thunder and guard Russell Westbrook are reportedly discussing their future, including a potential trade.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, general manager Sam Presti is in contact with Westbrook's agent, Thad Foucher, and the two sides "understand that the time has likely come to explore trade possibilities."

Earlier Saturday, the Thunder agreed to trade Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for five first-round picks, guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and forward Danilo Gallinari, per Wojnarowski. The Clippers then reportedly agreed to a four-year, $141 million contract with free agent Kawhi Leonard.

Westbrook has four years and $170 million remaining on his contract, and OKC may be wise to move it since the Thunder are no longer a championship contender and may not even be a playoff contender in the stacked Western Conference next season.

Even with Westbrook and George, the Thunder were ousted in the first round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. In three seasons since the departure of Kevin Durant, OKC has had three first-round exits.

It is also difficult to see Westbrook and Gilgeous-Alexander co-existing since Westbrook's ball dominance would likely stunt Gilgeous-Alexander's growth as a point guard.

If the Thunder do trade Westbrook, they will almost certainly look to rebuild around Gilgeous-Alexander, who averaged 10.8 points, 3.3 assists. 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game as a rookie last season after getting selected 11th overall in the 2018 NBA draft out of Kentucky.

Some questions exist regarding Westbrook's ability to be the leading man on a championship team, as well as his ability to mesh with another star. There is no denying the remarkable production he brings to the table, though.

Westbrook has averaged a triple-double in each of the past three seasons, and he also won the NBA MVP award in 2017.

He shot just 42.8 percent from the field and 29.0 percent from three-point range last season, though, which means he would fit best on a team that can surround him with shooters.

It is unclear which teams may have interest in Westbrook, but perhaps a team that already has one superstar and needs another to vie for a championship could check in on the eight-time All-Star.

Teaming with Victor Oladipo in Indiana, Jimmy Butler in Miami, Nikola Jokic in Denver or Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota would go a long way toward making an already interesting NBA season even more captivating.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.