Five Potential Trade Partners For Russell Westbrook
reporting contributed by Korie Grill
If you thought the drama and fallout from Kevin Durant moving out west to the Golden State Warriors was over, think again! Now, the Oklahoma City Thunder may consider trading superstar Russell Westbrook 'sooner rather than later,' according to Bleacher Report's Howard Beck.
Westbrook, of course, is in the final year of his contract, which means he'll become an unrestricted free agent following next year's Finals. There's league-wide belief that Westbrook has his sights set on Hollywood and the Los Angeles Lakers, but we'll likely find out more about his inclinations as the season moves along. If the Thunder decide to cash in on Westbrook, these are five trade partners that might be a good fit for both sides.
*These trades come with the caveat that Russell Westbrook will agree in principle to re-sign with the team that trades for him. Nobody is going to give up serious future assets for a half season of Westbrook, so let's play pretend here.*
Los Angeles Lakers
After being denied a meeting with Kevin Durant and Hassan Whiteside opting to stay with the Miami Heat, the Lakers have unfortunately regressed from one of the most desirable locations to a rather unappealing landing spot for free agents and trade candidates. While they've struggled in the past two seasons with an underwhelming 38-126 record over that span, the Lakers undeniably have a lot of young talent, some of which they can certainly move for a superstar like Russell Westbrook.
Of course, if they opt to trade for Westbrook instead of waiting for him in free agency, it would not be cheap. However, the Lakers have done a great job accruing talent in D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle, but they need an established veteran star to help Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov develop some of their prospects. Trading Serge Ibaka to Orlando for talent like Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis means that Oklahoma City is in a position to form a nucleus for many years to come.
Lakers trade D’Angelo Russell, Lou Williams, Larry Nance Jr, Lakers’ 2018 1st rounder.
Signing Al Horford brought some unbridled optimism to Boston as the aforementioned Durant allegedly considered the historic franchise as potential destination this summer. Well, the Celtics were considered, but ultimately not chosen -- so, now what? How about trading for the next best thing: Russell Westbrook. Out of all potential trade candidates with the assets to acquire Westbrook, the Celtics may have the most they can part with. In addition to Horford, the Celtics have a foundation of second and third-tier players including Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Jae Crowder. For years, the Celtics have been saving up picks and assets for the perfect opportunity like this.
Celtics trade Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Amir Johnson
Rumors have swirled all summer around the Philadelphia 76ers' glut of big man talent -- Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, and Joel Embiid. Similarly to the Celtics, the 76ers obviously have built up some special talent and could package that to make a move for the All-Star point guard. If the young talent in Philadelphia can live up to expectations and Westbrook stays healthy, the former bottom-feeders would almost immediately becomes a dark horse contender in the Eastern Conference. The Thunder would welcome the slew of future starters and offensive monster in Okafor. Additionally, adding future stash Furkan Korkmaz just gives head coach Billy Donovan another option in his fluid system down the line.
76ers trade: Jahlil Okafor, Carl Landry, Furkan Korkmaz, TJ McConnell, 2017 1st (via LAL, Top 3 Protection)
If we're looking for a stockpile of young talent, look no further than the Minnesota Timberwolves. Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kris Dunn, and Ricky Rubio are all fantastic pieces that could make up a title-contending team in five years or less, but a guy like Westbrook would launch them into immediate contention. Dunn, the #5 overall pick in 2016, is a promising guard out of Providence, but if you can upgrade to Westbrook, it's almost a no-brainer. LaVine and Dunn would give the Thunder a very well-rounded, young roster that they can build upon for years to come. This could be a nice fit for both sides, but would come down to whether or not Westbrook wants to live in the Minnesota snow as opposed to the California sunshine.
Wolves trade: Kris Dunn, Adreian Payne, Zach LaVine, and Tyus Jones
Finally, here's your last contender, and it may surprise you, but the Charlotte Hornets could get involved if Westbrook is publicly made available. Kemba Walker has quietly turned into a star and, at just 26 years-old, he could be a well-worthy replacement for Westbrook. Just this month, the Hornets indicated their desire to win now by re-signing Marvin Williams and Nicolas Batum to big contracts, so swinging for the fences now would make loads of sense. Toss in some young talent -- including Lamb who was traded from the Thunder in 2015 -- and you might have a match made in heaven for both sides.
Hornets trade: Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Frank Kaminsky, future pick
So, which trade is the most likely? What would your favorite team give for a legendary talent like Russell Westbrook? Chime in and let us know your thoughts!