On Monday I talked about Kawhi's decision, and my opinion of the current state of the NBA. I talked a bit about the Clippers not only getting Kawhi, but also getting Paul George. I mentioned that I had heard rumors that the Thunder were now exploring trades for Russell Westbrook. Today I want to talk about my feelings on that, and which team, or teams, I think would be a good fit for him.
First off, my thoughts on the idea of trading Russ away from OKC. I think the time has come for both parties to move on. Russ has done all he can do for that team and that city. He ran the show when it was him, KD and Harden. When Harden left, he changed his game to play with KD. Some people don't agree with this, they are wrong. KD is an iso guy, and the fact that Russ was so important to watch while on defense, he made it easier for KD to get his. Then KD left, and all Russ did was lead a terrible cast of players, with a new coach, to the playoffs, won the MVP and averaged a triple double. Again, idiots will say he was a stat hunter and only cared about himself. I say, he absolutely had to do this in order for that particular Thunder team to win.
Then they acquired Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. That did not work out, but they still made the playoffs, and Russ and PG seemed to like one another. They liked one another so much, Russ convinced PG to sign a deal with OKC that offseason. Last season, one of Russ' worst, as far as stats go, the Thunder made the playoffs again, Russ averaged a triple double for the third straight year, and helped PG become an MVP candidate, before he got hurt. But, they lost in the first round again, and it was all blamed on Westbrook.
Then the Kawhi stuff happened. I mean, what else, sans winning a title, can Russ do for the Thunder? He has really given them his all, has played through injury, willed this team back to the playoffs constantly, kept them afloat when KD left and is a blast to watch play. So, I think, if he wants one final chance to be on a competitive team, he has earned that right.
This leads me to which teams I think would be good fits for him. One, I would love, LOVE, to see him go to Phoenix. Sure, they aren't a title contender, but to replace Ricky Rubio with Russ, and put him next to Devin Booker, and an athletic big like Deandre Ayton, that would push them to a possible playoff team, even in the West. He would sell tickets there as well. Also, Phoenix could take on the last 2 years of his contract because they have so much young talent that is clogging spots for other players. They could make this deal happen, and I wish they would.
I like the fit with Chicago. He could go there, be a stop gap for Coby White, who I think is going to be really good, and help a team with Zach Lavine, Lauri Markenan and Wendell Carter definitely get into the playoffs in the East. The Bulls also have guys with easy contracts to trade, and they have picks.
Detroit was odd for me at first, but I think sending him there for Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard, plus picks, would make the Pistons fun. Russ and Blake Griffin, along with Andre Drummond could be a devastating pick and roll combo. And put him next to Derrick Rose, while not a great shooting back court, it would be explosive. I also think he would love to play for Dwayne Casey.
Then, my final team, the Miami Heat. I know the Thunder already have some of their picks, and trading Russ there would possibly take the picks out of the lottery, but they could get a good return of players, that they can turn into picks, and teaming Russ with Jimmy Butler could be a match made in heaven. Those 2 are cut from the same cloth, they will rip your will out of you, they would look cool as hell in those Miami vice jerseys, and Erik Spolestra has already shown he can coach mega stars to titles. Jimmy Butler and Russ may not be the duo you need to win a title, but in the East, who knows. I would love to see them playing against the Celtics or 76ers or Bucks. They would throw the hell down. This is what I hope, and want, to happen for Russ. I think it is almost too perfect.
Anyway, whatever what happens to Russ, I hope he gets a chance to compete, and that people stop blaming him for everything that has happened in OKC. It is not his fault. He has stayed tried and true to that team, and he can now do what he wants. He has earned that. I am fully team Russ.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
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