July 4, 2016, 4:17 pm
David Aldridge of NBA.com reported on Monday that he was “told emphatically” by a league source that there is “no chance” Russell Westbrook will do a renegotiation or extension of his contract.
Aldridge rarely misses reports so the next shoe to drop here is Oklahoma City trading the superstar — or risk losing him for nothing. With one year left on his deal there is a lot of meat on the bone for the league to chew on as well as his Bird Rights.
Westbrook will have major say over where he can be traded and this turns into a Carmelo Anthony type situation where the player and team have to have some synergy, but not too much synergy, as Melo and James Dolan got half the team traded away when there wasn’t any real reason to do so. Everybody knew he was going to the Knicks and there were no other good competing offers in that particular case.
With only a puncher’s chance to beat the Warriors now — a rip the band aid off approach could end up being the best for the Thunder.
Losing KD is a massive gut punch — a Draymond Green kick to the balls if you will — but can Sam Presti lose not just one, but two of the league’s best players without getting anything in return? On a gamble that Russ will stay?
Either Presti gets Westbrook’s word that he’s staying or the Thunder turn the page.
A move of this significance, the creation of a 73-win team that adds Kevin Durant, and the ending of a chapter in OKC is all very hard to process. It was just weeks ago that the Thunder almost cemented their future with a win over the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
Over time we’ll grapple with a mythological historic context. The Thunder were easily good enough to win a championship but ultimately a team that squandered its chances through a variety of blunders. Scott Brooks’ coach by narrative philosophies, the team keeping Kendrick Perkins instead of James Harden, and playing Kendrick Perkins in actual playoff games were all major problems easily seen by any astute observer of the game.
Don’t waste your time with talk of Serge Ibaka’s calf injury in the playoffs and when you mention the season-killing injuries to Westbrook and Durant, realize those are the reasons your organization can’t blow it when the window is open. That window is never open very long and it can shut at a moment’s notice.
When a half-decade has passed and you have not developed your superstar tandem into a cohesive on-court match, those seeds are planted during many years of inaction. Durant sees that cohesiveness with the Warriors. We got to see glimpses of that cohesiveness in the playoffs on the Thunder side.
Unfortunately it was a case of too little, too late.