Almost just as quickly as they had got together, the Russ/PG duo split, and left the franchise to figure things out on their own.
Reports hint that the pair were unhappy with the Thunder since the NBA Draft. The team was essentially trapped under the salary cap, unable to make much-needed improvements to the roster. This, coupled with back-to-back first-round eliminations spelled disaster for the team, and they soon found themselves without either of their franchise stars.
But, according to CJ McCollum, they might still be in OKC had they at least reached the Western Conference Finals this past postseason.
“You look at the Oklahoma City Thunder. What happens if they beat us? What happens if they get to the Western Conference Finals? Russ and PG probably stay together, Kawhi (Leonard) probably stays in Toronto,” McCollum told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on the Woj Pod. “It’s like a domino effect, a lot of things happen to where you never know. You never know what could happen, honestly.”
He’s right. When the Blazers smashed the Thunder in April, it created a domino effect of change for the team. Had they made it to the West Finals, we might be having a very different conversation.
George was traded to the Clippers in July after requesting a trade there from Oklahoma City. After receiving a haul of picks in return, Westbook was next and was promptly sent to Houston for another return of future assets.
To think, how that one shot by Damian Lillard resulted in so much change.