What’s next for the Oklahoma City Thunder?
The end of the Russell Westbrook and Paul George era has come to a close. After two full season of inconsistency, George requested to be traded, and joined 2019 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard on the Los Angeles Clippers.
Its hard to blame the guy. When the Finals MVP comes knocking, you answer. Still, leaving the Thunder for bluer waters has left Oklahoma City in a bit of a predicament. What’s next for the Thunder faithful?
First off, Oklahoma City has options. The Thunder received talented young point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, fresh off his first year in the league, veteran power forward Danilo Gallinari and an unprecedeted amount of future draft picks in the George trade. While trading a superstar is almost never a good thing, Thunder General Manager Sam Presti has yet again made the best out of a bad situation. With this many assets recieved, OKC now has room to work with.
Option No. 1: Recycle. Oklahoma City got an absolute haul for George. If it wasn’t for the fact that Leonard wouldn’t have signed if they didn’t trade for George, the Clippers never would’ve made this deal. It is a franchise crippling number of future picks. With the recycle option, the Thunder could turn around and trade the picks, and possibly players, they received for another star to pair with Westbrook. Teams like the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons, who are stuck between competing and rebuilding, could be open to trading their stars for future assets. Pairing another star like Bradley Beal or Blake Griffin could work, but history says otherwise.
Option No. 2: Use what you’ve got. The Thunder could just use the San Antonio Spurs method and just keep at it. After trading Leonard last offseason, it seemed the Spurs were finally headed for their first rebuild in decades. But instead, they continued on with a mix of veteran and young players, and have continued to go after mid-level contracts this offseason. It seems the rebuild just isn’t the way the Spur operate, and that could be OKC’s line of thinking as well. The Thunder could run it back with their current team. Hope Westbrook and Gallinari work offensively while developing Gilgeous-Alexander and attempting to make the playoffs in an absolutely loaded Western Conference. It isn’t ideal, but its an option.
Option No. 3. Blow. It. Up. The third option, and my personal favorite, is the inevitable rebuild. No, rebuilding isn’t fun. Yes, it takes time. But small market teams like Oklahoma City simply can’t compete in the league without resetting every couple of years. A rebuild is essential to the future of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The NBA is simply too loaded to compete at the moment, and if the Thunder couldn’t compete with two superstars, how could they with one. On top of the fact that OKC simply couldn’t and can’t win a championship, they just struck the rebuild jackpot. Gilgeous-Alexander had an extremely impressive rookie campaign, playing all 82 games, starting 73 and averaging 10.8 ppg at just 20-years-old. He could be a legitimate player to build around for the future. On top of that, no team in the history of the NBA has received as many picks in a trade as OKC in the George trade. And finally, there’s Westbrook. There could be riots if he’s traded, but in truth he has just a few more good years left in him, and Presti is known for maximizing someones trade potential.