And now, the Kevin Durant fallout begins.
The former NBA MVP sent shockwaves through the league Monday when he announced his intentions to sign with the Golden State Warriors, a blockbuster decision with the potential to make the Warriors a dynasty.
Of course, Durant’s decision affects a lot more parties than just him and the Warriors. It’s also a huge blow to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who just saw the most important player in franchise history leave to join the team that defeated OKC in the Western Conference finals.
The Thunder now have some very important decisions to make. Do they try to rebuild on the fly and build around superstar point guard Russell Westbrook? Or, do they tear it all down and start over?
One thing that might affect the Thunder’s decision is Westbrook’s contract situation. The 27-year-old is entering the final season of his deal, and it now sounds like he’s very much willing to start looking around at other potential teams rather than sign a long-term extension to stay with the Thunder.
That certainly seems to open the door for a trade. Westbrook, at his best, is one of the NBA’s best, most competitive players. He’d be a huge asset to gain for any team in the league, but trading for Westbrook now comes with obvious risk, as there’s no guarantee he’d sign a long-term extension with his new team and skip out on free agency.
Which brings us to the Boston Celtics. Considered by many to be a relative long shot to sign Durant, the Celtics appeared to be in the running for the former MVP until the very end. Losing out on Durant obviously stings, especially for a team that likely considers itself a superstar player away from being a legitimate contender.
So, could the Celtics turn their attention to Westbrook? Boston’s assets make it an ideal trade partner for the Thunder. The Celtics essentially own the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick in 2017, and they also own Brooklyn’s first-rounder in 2018. They also have a host of good young talent, all of which could ultimately be attractive for a team suddenly staring a rebuild in the face.
But would it be worth the risk with no guarantee the Celtics could keep Westbrook in Boston for the long term? That’s obviously one of the many questions Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and his team must now ponder.
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