Oklahoma City Thunder Keeping Kevin Durant Means Trading Russell Westbrook
The Oklahoma City Thunder have had great success with their dynamic combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. High expectations have brought forth added pressure to win a title and question marks about whether these two can coexist. If the Thunder want to keep Durant long term it may be in their best interest to find him a new partner in crime. This may happen as soon as Thursday night’s NBA Draft.
Westbrook is a potent scorer with blistering speed. He’s a rising star in the league, but I don’t think he’s the best complement to Durant. He’s a shooting guard who’s been playing out of position his entire career. He wants to score his 20 points per game, often at the expense of his teammates. He’s often out of control and makes poor decisions with the basketball. In late-game situations it’s often Westbrook barreling down the lane with a forced, off-balance shot.
Rumors have been popping up that if the Boston Celtics do not land Kevin Love, then their second option is dealing Rajon Rondo. This rumor has been floating around for several years now, and with Rondo set to enter free agency in 2015, this may be the Celtics’ last chance to get a good piece in return.
One of the interested suitors is rumored to be Oklahoma City. The deal actually makes a lot of sense for both sides. Westbrook would head to Boston where they need some star power to put some butts in the seats during their rebuilding period. On the flip side, the Thunder would get their pass-first point guard in Rondo who would fit nicely feeding the ball to Durant.
If Westbrook isn’t traded then that means the end is near for Durant. He’s due to become a free agent in 2015. He’ll undoubtedly have teams knocking down his door trying to court him. Don’t look now, but the New York Knicks will be in excellent shape to bring in a top flight star if not multiple. Players like Tyson Chandler, Andrea Bargnani and Amare Stoudemire are all coming off the books, so Phil Jackson will have plenty of money to throw at Durant. Add in the opportunity to play in one of the best NBA markets and that’s a tough proposition to turn down for even the most loyal athlete.
I think Durant and the Thunder front office see the writing on the wall. Durant and Westbrook are exciting, but it appears they have peaked together. The Thunder need to try something new to try to keep Durant. He’s never going to throw his teammate under the bus because it’s not his style, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a couple closed-door discussions with the organization if he hasn’t already.
The possibility of a trade to Boston is a very real one. Danny Ainge is no stranger to dealing star players and has a history making deals with the Thunder franchise. Whether it’s to Boston or another franchise, I think Westbrook is on his way out. Without a change the Thunder would be looking at a possible future without Westbrook, Durant, or both.