Kevin Durant is now a member of the Golden State Warriors, and now all the attention is on Russell Westbrook. Westbrook, the NBA’s most talked about player at the moment, is a free agent at the end of the 2017 season. With Durant gone, Westbrook is out. It’s as simple as that, whether he plays out the season or gets traded, Russ’s time in OKC is winding down. He even admitted it coming out and saying there is “no chance” of him renegotiating with the Thunder. OKC fans can only hope that Sam Presti and the Thunder front office don’t make the same mistake with Durant and try trading Russ in exchange for some building blocks, not just letting him walk (probably in a 3-team deal). The timetable for when he is officially gone is unknown. Honestly, it’s tough for anyone to tell where he will go, or where he wants to go. Next to LeBron, Westbrook is the most athletic player in the NBA, no question about it. That athleticism that Russ brings to his next team will instantly put them into contention. So many teams, so many possibilities. It’s the NBA so nothing would surprise me. No question Russ already has teams in mind, and is day dreaming of all the different scenarios. Let’s not kid ourselves either, we are too. Here are some scenarios I’ve been thinking about. Will they happen? Who knows, Bismack Biyombo signed a 4 year/ $72 million deal with the Orlando Magic! Yes, you read that right…
Boston Celtics: There is so much potential for a deal to happen here. With Boston’s draft picks, which somehow seem endless, and current roster assets something can definitely come about. The Celtics are so close to taking that next step. With Westbrook, they move into instant title contention. A big three of Westbrook, Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas, with Brad Stevens coaching the team would give Cleveland something to worry about. The Celtics have enough young talent already that they can spare some in a trade to get the most electrifying player in the NBA. OKC knows they are about to start their rebuilding process, why not trade Westbrook and get some players like Jerebko, Olynyk, Smart, and then some draft picks? The biggest thing here is if Russ is willing to resign with Boston after next season. No team will commit to a trade for Westbrook unless knowing he is willing to resign, which is understandable. He’ll be making at least $100 plus million where he ends up, and why not do it in Beantown? The history, big market, one of the best young coaches in the league, and they’re ready to win which is what Russ needs to go to. You could say he’s just entering his prime or at least knocking down the door. Why not enter in Boston?
Los Angeles Lakers: Russ is an LA kid, and the Lakers are… well, the Lakers. In today’s NBA, it feels like going home to play for the home team is some rite of passage. Realistically, this move only happens if it’s an off-season signing. I don’t see the Lakers getting rid of all the top tier picks they have recently taken. A trade involving Russ for Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, and Brandon Ingram just sounds too expensive. Russ isn’t going to LA to play with Timofey Mozgov, let’s be real. You can most likely rule out any trades, but an off-season signing? Absolutely possible. Like I said, it’s his hometown, he played his college ball at UCLA and its LA. It’s California. Second biggest market in the country? Gets to play in front of celebrity row and if he does join the Lakers, he’s right away the general of the young Lakers squad who is filled with tons of talent. Hypothetically it really does make sense, and would be cool to see Russ in the purple and gold. The Lakers would probably have to make room to get the cap space for Westbrook, but who knows. Anything is possible in Hollywood.
New York Knicks: We all know how Russ loves his fashion, so I have to imagine he’s thought about playing in the Big Apple, the fashion capital of the US. Not to mention an intriguing team that has the rights to a basketball unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis. This situation seems very unlikely, but anything can happen. Next season the Knicks will have a substantial amount of cap space that will allow them to offer Russ his quota, granted he is still available. A mid-season trade by the Knicks is never out of the question, because let’s be honest it’s the Knicks. There were rumblings of the Knicks possibly offering Porzingis, along with others, to OKC for Russ, but the talks have since dissipated. That would be the Knick-iest move of all time, and I am so, so glad it did not happen. As a fan, I would love having Westbrook on the team. Porzingis is amazing, and will have a great career if everything goes to plan. I don’t know if it is enough for Russ to come to NY though.
Miami Heat: The Heat are always a sleeper when it comes to free agents. As history shows, Pat Riley has been known to bring the best of the best to South beach (he’s also lost a couple too, but that’s another story). It’s not just the fact that it’s Miami, but if Russ did go to Miami he’d be joining a young talented team. Right now, the Heat have a solid crew that consists of Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside, two dynamic, extremely athletic players with very high ceilings. If I’m Russ, how are you not thinking of joining Miami? The potential is there if Russ does join the Heat. They’re not an instant contender but the foundation that is built there after a Russ signing looks very promising. If I’m Russ, I am 100% exploring my options in Miami, at least taking a sit down with Riley. The only question is if they could make it work? Spoelstra has made the trifecta work before, but Russ is a different breed of superstar. Not to mention, can Russ mesh playing with Whiteside? That would be something if they could. A fast break trio of Russ – Whiteside – Winslow would exhaust defenses just thinking about it. Just pure, god-given athleticism on a basketball court.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Is it crazy to think Russ would stay in OKC and actually may want to play there? Not really. Russell Westbrook is the kind of guy who likes to finish what he started, so him staying in OKC doesn’t seem as far fetched as you think. Clearly Russ is mad about KD leaving. Wouldn’t you if your boy ditched you to hang with a new crew? If Russ does decide to stay, which could happen for at least next season, it’ll be Russ against the world. That aggression and passion we see him play with all the time, will be turned up 50 levels. He’ll be playing like he’s trying to prove a point. The point being that this is his team and he wants to win here. That’s where KD and Russ are different. It was obvious that KD was easily swooned to join GSW, where as Russ doesn’t want the so called “easy way out”. Russ is different. Russ laughs at alliances and the super friends and lives for the day he can defeat them. If he does stay, it’ll be a long, tough road to get back to where the Thunder were last season. As much as Russ is a competitor, he clearly wants to win and Russ can only wait for so long.
San Antonio Spurs: Just hear me out. I know how ludicrous it sounds — Russell Westbrook a member of the San Antonio Spurs. On paper this sounds so good, it would be even better as a reality. It’s the NBA though, it’s where amazing happens. Numbers-wise it is highly unlikely but Golden State was able to sign KD, so why not? We live in a time where professional basketball players want to win and want to play on super teams. Yes, Russ on the Spurs is an outrageous thought I know, but his buddy KD ditched him to join the super friends in the Bay Area so why can’t Russ do it too? Duncan has retired, and with an aging Manu and Tony Parker, the Spurs will be looking to revamp. Trade possibilities? Would OKC want Danny Green? Kawhi and Lamarcus Aldridge are great, but they in no way can take down the Warriors by themselves. An addition of Russell Westbrook instantly makes them a favorite to take down the Warriors. Think about it: Steph – KD – Draymond vs. Russ – Kawhi – Lamarcus in a 7 game series? Who do you got? The wild, wild west! Russ and KD meet again in the conference finals, but this time as foes. You’re seriously thinking about it now, aren’t you? Russ wants to win, what a better place to do it? And we can’t forget Pop. Like I said earlier, Russ is on the brink of his prime, or maybe he’s already there. Either way, there is so much more of his game that needs to be refined. What better coach to help him do it than Popovich? Out of all the possible Russ destinations, I think I want this to happen. The drama and the quality of basketball that this presents is unfathomable. Who wouldn’t want to see Russ and Kawhi in the same back court? I think I’d take that over Steph/Klay any day.
At the end of the day, its Russ’s world and we’re just living in it. No one knows where he is going to end up or where he wants to be. Everything here is hypothetical and fun, with a sense of hopefulness and intrigue. What we do know is that he wants to win, he wants to win now, and where he lands he will compete to the fullest. I believe Russell Westbrook will be must-see television this NBA season. So do what you have to do to make sure you watch him, this season will be a different breed of Westbrook.