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Thunder Were Planning To Trade Russell Westbrook Before Paul George Deal

(via Slam)

(via Slam)

In a dramatic and sudden turn of events, the Oklahoma City Thunder sent Paul George packing to the L.A. Clippers for an unprecedented haul of future draft picks. After news of the deal broke, there was one question was on everybody's mind: what happens to Russ?

The Thunder answered the question by sending Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for a package involving more future assets.

On the surface, it looks like Paul's trade request forced Sam Presti's hand. In reality, the Thunder may have known all along that things just wouldn't work out.

(via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report)

The clock was already ticking loudly on the Westbrook era, with team officials quietly preparing to hit the reset button next summer, per sources, after one more run.

George’s trade request was a blessing in disguise for the Thunder. They got a massive haul from the Clippers and clearance to trade Westbrook, a franchise icon. The Westbrook trade netted even more draft strong draft considerations from Houston. Oklahoma City has a great head start on its rebuild.

The Thunder had probably peaked. They’ve been good the last few years, but not good enough to win a playoff series. The supporting cast was expensive, and further upgrades would’ve likely been too costly. Westbrook is too good to tank. The four years and $171,139,920 remaining on his contract are a major liability.

By Beck's report, the Thunder were giving the Russ/PG duo one more year before blowing it up. George's request did not send them on a tailspin out of control but, rather, gave them a headstart on a likely inevitable rebuild.

Both George and Westbrook will be playing for the Championship next season, having paired with fellow All-Stars in Houston and Los Angeles. The Thunder, meanwhile, will eagerly set in motion the long but promising rebuild ahead.