The rebuilding plan is in full effect with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder's goals for 2019-20 changed drastically when they traded Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, receiving Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and five first-round picks and a pair of pick swaps in return for the six-time All-Star.
That move put Russell Westbrook's future with the team in doubt, and the Thunder wasted little time moving on from him, too.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Oklahoma City sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul, first-rounders in 2024 and 2026 and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025. Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported on the protections tied to the draft picks:
Through these moves, general manager Sam Presti has laid the groundwork for a new era of Thunder basketball:
Albert Nahmad @AlbertNahmad
OKC 1sts: 2020 Own (1-20) 2020 DEN (11-30) 2021 Own (HOU 5-30 swap right) 2021 MIA (HOU 5-30 swap right) 2022 Own (1-14) 2022 LAC 2023 Own (LAC swap right) 2023 MIA (15-30) 2024 Own 2024 LAC 2024 HOU (5-30) 2025 Own (LAC and HOU 21-30 swap right) 2026 Own 2026 LAC 2026 HOU (5-30)
The Thunder have been a playoff contender for a decade, so tearing it down to the studs will be a tough thing to watch for fans. It could be years before Oklahoma City is back to respectability.
Trading Westbrook in particular is a blow because his departure definitively ends a run that showed so much promise with a run to the NBA Finals in 2012.
But Presti deserves credit for recognizing what needed to be done and capitalizing on the collective desperation of the Clippers and Rockets.
Los Angeles needed to finalize a George trade to sign Kahwi Leonard, while Houston might have felt the need to beat the Miami Heat to the punch for Westbrook. Wojnarowski reported Tuesday the Heat had "expressed interest" in him.
Presti has already shown he's capable of successfully overseeing a complete turnaround for the franchise. He took over as the Seattle Supersonics' GM in the summer of 2007 and proceeded to move his best trade assets on and build through the draft.
The odds of Presti once again striking it rich with three stars as good as Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden are slim. But the Thunder have so many draft picks that they only need one or two of those to hit to kick-start the process toward contention.