There is a new era of basketball for the Oklahoma City Thunder. And how does GM Sam Presti want to steer it? They have to keep going after the face of their young franchise, Kevin Durant, left to go to the Golden State Warriors. And if the Thunder organization does not play their cards right they could see their other superstar, Point Guard Russell Westbrook, could walk next summer just like Durant did this year.
So the question is: What do the Thunder do from here? Trade their other cornerstone franchise player? Or watch another one of their superstars leave them in free agency next summer? Or try to sign him to a long term extension this summer?
Option #1: Trade
The Oklahoma City Thunder could deal Russell Westbrook away for package deal that can give the Thunder flexibility in cap space and in future drafts to keep them in the race for future years. And that is usually how the Thunder like to do business. They like getting their key players from the draft. The former “Big 3” in OKC, Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook, were all brought to the Thunder via the draft. So it would have take a really big deal for the Thunder to shop away Westbrook, but the Thunder will definitely listen to those big trade offers.
This option is definitely the harder one of the options to pull off. If you take it you are basically telling your fans that after eight great years of basketball, you are going to have to watch us suffer for multiple years to come. Most organizations do not like giving that speech to the fans. Also if you take this option you probably will not do anything in this free agency. It would not make to much sense to use up cap space on a player when you are going to start the rebuilding process.
Option #2: Wait and See
This option is definitely a fan favorite because it keeps the team relevant in the Western Conference. This option means you wait until next summer to deal with Russell Westbrook’s free agency. This is definitely the more risky of plans because you could add a really good player to better your team but it has to be a piece that can fit around Russell Westbrook.
But if Westbrook leaves next summer you are just forced to keep a player that might not fit the new system after Westbrook leaves. Also if he leaves, you lose cap space on that player when you could get a superstar in a future free agency to come. This option has huge upside but has a greater risk. This option is based solely on how cofident you are that Westbrook will come back? If you are very confident that he will stay in OKC then you pick this. But, if you are unsure about where he will be after next summer then do not take this option.
Option #3: Sign Him Now
This option’s probability of happening is near zero. There is no way Westbrook’s agent could let this happen. Even though the salary cap is extremely high this year, it is supposed to balloon up again next year. So there should be no chance of this happening, but in free agency you never know. Westbrook could really love playing in OKC. He could really want to spend his good years chasing a ring with the Thunder organization. I would be very shocked to see this option come to life.
If I was the Thunder organization, I would trade Westbrook. This would allow you to try and be the dynasty after this Golden State-Cleveland saga of the NBA is over. In the NBA right now, it does not look like any team can compete with these two team. So I think this is the perfect time for teams to start planning for the future because the present looks really bleak if you are not the Warriors or the Cavaliers.