Various trade rumors concerning the Oklahoma City Thunder are being talked about in the NBA sports world. With the departure of Kevin Durant, the pecking order for the Thunder has fallen from one of the top four teams in the Association to a less potent playoff contender. In other words, don’t put OKC in the short list of teams expecting to make a run for an NBA championship for a while. At best, in the ever changing Western Conference, Golden State has the inside tract to take their second title in three years in 2016-17. Along with a strong San Antonio Spurs club, add in the (ever present and star filled) Los Angeles Clippers, the improving (and surprising Portland Trail Blazers), and continual better than average Dallas Mavs, Houston Rockets, and Memphis Grizzlies., the Thunder will have to work hard to gain the foothold they have enjoyed the past seven seasons. For Thunder fans, a bitter pill to swallow.
Blake Griffin to Oklahoma City this summer could be the one trade that puts the Thunder back on the road of viability, more than just a good also ran team. Griffin, a star in this league, a proven top fifteen player, and the one player good enough to make a real difference now in OKC, would come at a cost that General Manager Sam Presti could live with, short time and for the future. The giving side of the trade the Thunder would have to put on the table would benefit both the Clippers and the team on Reno Street.
The most interesting trade between the two would give OKC Blake Griffin for Enes Kanter, Domantos Sabonis, and one other player, such as a freshly signed Dion Waiters or another Thunder player not named Steve Adams, Russell Westbrook or Victor Oladipo. If Presti can get a starting line-up of Westbrook, Adams, Griffin, Oladipo and Andre Roberson, that would put the Thunder as good a starting five this side of the Sierra Nevada’s. And with a bench of young but good talent that will improve, OKC is now back in business.
Two things need to come together. Presti has to prove to Westbrook that he will surround the new face of the franchise will players will make the Thunder win now, not in three or four years. If Presti cannot do that, give Westbrook a fighting chance to win now, look for number 0 to take his game to Cleveland next year. Cleveland, unlike other destinations that have been rumored as possible venue for Westbrook, such as the New York Knicks, and the Los Angeles Clippers or the Los Angeles Lakers on the left coast, do not benefit Westbrook in wining a title soon, or in 2017-18. Only Cleveland, Golden State or San Antonio at the least, would offer that to the OKC star. And could you see Westbrook being reigned in by Coach Popovich? And for Golden State, no for many reasons that do not need to be explained.
This is Presti’s time to shine. OKC is not far off. The loss of Kevin Durant can be overcome. The Thunder suffered so much last year with death, coaching loss, and now we find, loyalty. Issues with the former face of the franchise cannot be overstated. Internal strife, as small as some phone calls to the wrong person can devastate a team. A cancer can rear its ugly head anywhere, even on the face. This cancer has taken it’s departure without surgery, and with an opportunity to be well again, what will the Thunder do with a positive mental outlook for the now and present. With Griffin, a title run would not be out of the question.