Russell Westbrook’s future with the Oklahoma City Thunder is getting bleaker by the minute. The Thunder should trade him now to avoid a repeat of the Kevin Durant situation.
The Houston Rockets are among the possible trade partners for the Thunder. The Rockets recently re-signed James Harden to a four-year, $118 million deal. Rumors around the league suggest that Daryl Morey and company are eager to pair Harden with his former OKC teammate.
Sporting News noted that the Rockets “would give everything” to have a back court duo of Harden and Westbrook. However, that’s easier said than done. The team still lacks the necessary pieces to trade for the mercurial point guard.
At the moment, the best the Rockets can do is package a deal involving Trevor Ariza, Patrick Beverley or Corey Brewer. The team recently signed free agents Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, but they can’t be traded until later in the 2016-17 NBA season.
Harden and Westbrook played three season together in OKC. The formidable trio of Durant, Westbrook and Harden helped the Thunder reach the 2012 NBA Finals, but they were unable to outlast Miami’s own Big Three.
The slow demise of the Oklahoma City Thunder began in the summer of 2012, when the team decided to trade James Harden to the Houston Rockets. Harden blossomed into an elite scorer and quickly became the face of the Rockets franchise.
Many basketball observers pondered what could have been had the Thunder instead paid the luxury tax penalty to keep Harden. Former OKC head coach Scott Brooks revealed that his players were drained after learning Harden had been traded to the Rockets.
“You look at all the great teams. The Golden State Warriors have three All-Stars. The Miami Heat had three All-Stars. The Boston Celtics had three All-Stars,” Brooks told Fox Sports. “But it didn’t work out. For whatever reason, they couldn’t get it done.”
The Thunder are in a tough situation at this point with Westbrook’s looming free agency. The five-time All-Star point guard reportedly declined to sign a contract extension with the Thunder. He could leave as a free agent next summer, which could force the Thunder to trade him instead of parting ways with him for nothing.