Report: Aubrey McClendon's Thunder Minority Stake for Sale After Westbrook Trade

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 15: The Oklahoma City Thunder logo sits on display on the court before the team played the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2013 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The ownership stake held by late Chesapeake Energy Corp. co-founder Aubrey McClendon in the Oklahoma City Thunder has reportedly been made available for purchase.

According to Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg, McClendon's 22 percent ownership stake in the franchise has been held by his estate since his death in 2016.

The ownership stake becomes available during a transitional period for the Thunder after ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that they traded Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers and agreed to deal Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets this offseason.

Forbes listed the Thunder as the 18th-most valuable franchise in the NBA this year at $1.5 billion. The franchise has climbed significantly in value over the past 13 years after a Clay Bennett-led group purchased the Seattle SuperSonics in 2006 before moving them to OKC. The purchase price was $325 million, per Soshnick.

Those familiar with the situation told Soshnick that McClendon's stake includes voting rights but "few other perks." McClendon's stake reportedly does not come with any decision-making authority.

The Thunder have reached the playoffs in nine of the past 10 seasons, including four trips to the Western Conference Finals and one unsuccessful NBA Finals appearance.

OKC has been ousted in the first round in each of the past three seasons, following the departure of Kevin Durant after the 2015-16 season.

With both George and Westbrook out of the picture, it seems unlikely that the Thunder will be a playoff team in the stacked Western Conference in 2019-20.

Oklahoma City should still have a competitive team, though, with nine-time All-Star guard Chris Paul reportedly coming over from Houston in the Westbrook trade. The Thunder also acquired guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and forward Danilo Gallinari in the George trade, while center Steven Adams and guard Dennis Schroder are holdovers.

Most importantly, the Thunder acquired five first-round picks in the George trade and reportedly picked up two first-rounders in the Westbrook trade. Given that bounty of picks, the Thunder are well positioned to retool quickly.

There may be some growing pains in the coming years, but whoever purchases McClendon's stake will be part of an organization that has the capital to bring in a ton of young talent moving forward.

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