Russell Westbrook is likely to not re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder next summer.
With Kevin Durant recently leaving the Thunder for the Golden State Warriors during free agency and Serge Ibaka being traded during this year’s NBA draft, if the Thunder ends up losing Westbrook in free agency, they will be in full rebuild mode.
Westbrook is a pass first guard who could do a good job getting the ball to Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams for the Thunder, but the Thunder have a solid core of young players and could do a quick rebuild if they were able to trade away Westbrook for some young prospects.
So should the Thunder trade the All-NBA point guard before he walks away this summer?
Yes they should, because they need to be able to get something for him. If you are the Thunder, the best places to trade Westbrook would be the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers or the Boston Celtics.
There are several strong reasons why Westbrook would choose to go the Lakers in free agency.
Westbrook went to UCLA, is into fashion and wants to get more endorsements.
For the Thunder, trading Westbrook to the Lakers would be a good decision because they would be able to get a young promising core of young talent in return. The Thunder would want D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram, along with some future draft picks. The Thunder would be able to immediately fill both positions they just lost, in Durant and Westbrook. Ingram has the abilities of Kevin Durant. He shoots the ball well and can drive to the hole. He also has the NBA size of a small forward. Adding Westbrook to the team probably wouldn’t help the Lakers make the playoffs the first season together, but after that they will be a force in the Western Conference.
The next possible landing spot for Westbrook could be the 76ers. The Thunder would receive Nerlens Noel, Ben Simmons and Robert Covington, along with a couple draft picks.
Noel is a great defensive power forward, just like an Ibaka, but he doesn’t have the offensive ability that Ibaka has. Simmons has been playing great team ball so far in the Summer League. He is great passer for a small forward or power forward. He could become a true superstar in this league. Simmons averaged a double-double in college. Covington has a nice three-point shot. He plays average defense and has great size to come off the bench.
The last landing spot for Westbrook could be the Boston Celtics. Danny Ainge has been trying to pull off a few big trades this offseason, but all have fallen through. The Celtics would become an instant contender in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics have a plethora of draft picks in these upcoming drafts, and would only have to give up Isaiah Thomas, because Westbrook would replace him. For the Thunder, getting Thomas would not be a bad fit. He is an undersized guard, but he knows how to score the basketball. The Thunder need a point guard in order to be competitive in the Western Conference. Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and Mike Conley are all in the West. The draft next year will be one of the best, with players like De’Aaron Fox, Harry Giles, and Josh Jackson, who are all likely to be one-and-done players, coming out.
Thunder General Manager Sam Presti is not afraid to make some big moves. He has traded away James Harden and Ibaka in the past few years. Presti is looking into all possible trade situations, but I believe the best situation for the Thunder is trading Westbrook to the Lakers.