What To Do With Russell Westbrook?
With the unlikelihood of Kevin Durant pulling a "DeAndre Jordan" and reversing his decision to join the Golden State Warriors and coming back to Oklahoma City, the Thunder are now in an unfortunate predicament. What do they do with their other star, Russell Westbrook?
Westbrook is almost guaranteed to leave at this point and there will be plenty of suitors for him come free agency next season. But should the Thunder take action now? Absolutely.
The Thunder's hand has been forced and they have a pair of options to think over.
The first option is to get Westbrook to agree to a contract extension or even have him give his word that he is coming back. They can't afford to lose Westbrook the way they did Durant. The Thunder want to lock Westbrook down long-term, but can they surround him with the pieces necessary in order to convince him to stay? That's the major question.
The "big three" that the Thunder have now, consist of Westbrook, Steven Adams, and any one of their other mid-level players; Andre Roberson, Enes Kanter, or Victor Oladipo. There is no third star on the court and that is likely what the Thunder will need in order to keep Westbrook in Oklahoma City. Blake Griffin has an early termination optionin his contract after next season that could be exercised, perhaps he can be an option next off-season that could at least make Westbrook think about returning to the Thunder.
What the Thunder can't allow to happen is to let Westbrook walk. There is no way the team can replace Kevin Durant, but trying to replace both Durant and Westbrook would mean that the Thunder are starting from scratch with next to nothing to work with. A scenario much like what the Philadelphia 76ers are in now.
The other option they need to consider is trading Westbrook and get as much value as they can for him. The likelihood that Westbrook leaves is very high, so get what you can for him while his stock is astronomically high. Rumors are that the L.A. Lakers and the New York Knicks may be landing spots for Westbrook who looks to be headed to a big city should he leave. Other possible options include the L.A. Clippers, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, and Boston Celtics.
Trading Westbrook may be the best option for the Thunder as they begin to fall as an interesting destination for free agents. Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti needs to sit down with Westbrook sometime soon and ask the guard what he plans to do so the team can make adjustments. He may not get an answer, but at least they can get a feel for what Westbrook is thinking and prepare. Should they trade Westbrook, the Thunder may be major sellers in free agency and try to dump the majority of the roster.
The point is, you can't lose another superstar for nothing.
So these two options are now in front of the Thunder as they look down the road.
What do you think the Thunder should do?