Russell Westbrook may be both the luckiest and unluckiest man in all of basketball. Think back on his career; he was drafted into the perfect situation. Playing for the NBA’s newest franchise alongside future NBA MVP, Kevin Durant. The next season, the Thunder would draft another MVP to compliment their unstoppable young pair with James Harden. It seemed clear that the Thunder would be a dynasty for the next decade, especially after they pushed the Lebron James lead Miami Heat to five games in the NBA finals just three years later.
Everything looked great for the Thunder’s future until they made one of the worst mistakes in NBA history. Oklahoma City general manager, Sam Presti traded the reigning sixth man of the year and future MVP, James Harden to the Houston Rockets. With the Golden State Warriors beginning to take charge of the NBA, the Thunder would not make another finals appearance.
Following these disappointments, Kevin Durant moved West to join the Golden State Warriors, leaving Russell Westbrook with a depleted roster. Westbrook took advantage of the heightened opportunity in Oklahoma City and resigned on a five-year $205 million max contract. He would average a triple-double the next season dragging the Thunder to the playoffs. After losing in the first round to former teammate James Harden and the Houston Rockets, Westbrook would be sent home once again.
Presti, deciding not to waste the prime of one of the most athletic guards this league has ever seen, finally decided to pull the trigger on a trade for likely a one-year rental of Paul George. George had his sights set on the Lakers in the upcoming free agency, but that didn’t stop Presti. Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis would be on their way to Indiana for the multi-time all-star.
Following a relatively disappointing season in Oklahoma City that saw the Thunder lose in the first round to a Jazz team lead by rookie, Donovan Mitchell, George shocked the world and resigned in OKC on a four-year contract. It appeared Westbrook had finally found his second star and that they would use the next four years to build the team around them.
Unfortunately, following a season where Paul George became an MVP candidate, he had worn a Thunder jersey for the last time. Paul George was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers to team up with the NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard. Despite heaps of picks being involved in the deal, Russell Westbrook was once again, alone. Westbrook needs to get out of Oklahoma City, and with an offseason as crazy as this one, this could be a perfect time.
Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets
Thunder Recieve: Andrew Wiggins (Timberwolves), Jeff Teague (Timberwolves), Clint Capela (Rockets), 2020 First Round Pick (Rockets), 2022 First Round Pick (Rockets)
Rockets Recieve: Russell Westbrook (Thunder), Steven Adams (Thunder)
Timberwolves Recieve: Chris Paul (Rockets), 2021 First Round Pick Swap (Rockets)
There are a lot of moving pieces here; I know. Before you are so quick to judge, just remember that an MVP candidate and the former Finals MVP will be playing together next season. In other words, anything can happen.
In order for the Rockets to trade for Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul would have to be part of the deal. This doesn’t make any sense for the Thunder, however, as Chris Paul wouldn’t fit alongside their new timeline of draft picks and young talent. Enter the Minnesota Timberwolves who are in desperate need of an upgrade at the point guard position. In return, the Thunder receive Andrew Wiggins, who may not be perfect, but would have loads of opportunity at shots playing alongside a young core with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Clint Capela (who would be swapped with Steven Adams in order to get younger), and all of the future picks acquired in the Westbrook and Paul George deals.
Russell Westbrook to the Chicago Bulls
Thunder Recieve: Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, Christiano Felicio, 2020 First Round Pick
Bulls Recieve: Russell Westbrook
A much simpler option here, the Bulls look to speed up their rebuild in a historically weak Eastern conference. With the Raptors losing Kawhi, the Celtics losing Horford, the Bucks losing Brogdon, and the Nets being forced to sit Durant for the season, the East could theoretically be open for a team like the Bulls to make a jump if they acquire a superstar.
Westbrook and Lavine are extremely similar players as well, meaning neither team would have to drastically change their system in order to integrate the new talent.
Russell Westbrook to the Toronto Raptors
Thunder Recieve: Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby, 2020 First Round Pick, 2021 Second Round Pick, 2022 First Round Pick, 2022 Second Round Pick, 2023 First Round Pick Swap
Raptors Recieve: Russell Westbrook
If Masai Ujiri is able to pull off two trades for superstars in back to back offseasons, he may be in the running for one of the greatest executives in the history of the NBA. With Kawhi Leonard out, the Raptors have two options. They could either look to rebuild entirely around Pascal Siakam or take advantage of the weak Eastern conference and potentially make it back into the playoff picture.
With the signings of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson to replace Kawhi, it appears the Raptors aren’t done competing just yet. With the acquisition of Russell Westbrook to play alongside Siakam, Gasol and the rest of the championship team, the Raptors would remain in contention for the finals next season.
Russell Westbrook to the Detroit Pistons
Thunder Recieve: Sekou Doumbouya, Reggie Jackson, Thon Maker, Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway, 2020 First Round Pick, 2022 First Round Pick, 2023 First Round Pick Swap
Pistons Recieve: Russell Westbrook, Abdel Nader
Like I said about the Bulls and the Raptors, the Eastern conference is historically weak. While the Pistons have had a solid playoff roster over the past couple of seasons, they’ve never been legitimate contenders even in the Eastern Conference. Despite trading the majority of their depth and potentially three first round picks, this trade would give the Pistons the best roster they’ve had since the early 2000’s when they won the Finals.
While it may seem like throwing the kitchen sink at the Thunder, that might be exactly what they need. A variety of first-round picks over the next couple seasons to go along with young players with crazy upside like Sekou Doumbouya and Thon Maker may seem lackluster now, but in the future, this could turn the Thunder into a scary team.