How absurd has Russell Westbrook’s five triple-doubles in six games streak been? The Oklahoma City point guard has carried the Thunder while Kevin Durant has been out with a foot injury, and his stats in February are on the short list for one of the greatest months in NBA history (31.2 ppg, 10.3 apg, 9.1 rpg, 45% FGs).
Last week, I pondered whether or not Westbrook’s maturity would help the Thunder retain Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016, when he’s a free agent – his hometown Wizards are in play – but former Portland Trailblazers VP of Basketball Operations Tom Penn sees it another way: Westbrook’s been so good, and the team is working so well around him, perhaps Oklahoma City looks to trade Durant, rather than lose him for nothing. He was a guest on The Herd today:
I think this burst from Westbrook makes it likelier – much more likely – that Durant ultimately gets traded next year. [Colin Cowherd explodes.]
Sam Presti has proven that he does not ever want to lose anybody for nothing. He traded James Harden a year early to avoid a potential luxury tax problem a year later.
The Kevin Durant drumbeat next year is going to be so loud … he will not commit early to OKC because the rules are against that.
If Sam Presti doesn’t that get that commitment, he’ll look to trade Kevin Durant. Looking at the performance of Westbrook and the team around Westbrook will make it easier for him to do that, potentially.
Surely there would be laughter in OKC about Penn’s projection, especially when you consider Durant is arguably the 2nd best player in the NBA after LeBron James, just won the MVP award, and he turns 27 in September, so he’s not even in his prime yet. But there’s also this – the sample size for the Thunder without Westbrook is a tiny one. I surmised on my radio show Sunday that OKC with Westbrook leading the way reminds me of the post-Shaq Lakers when Kobe averaged 35 ppg one season … and were bounced in the 1st round (though, after that, the Lakers would win two championships).
In case you do like the idea of Durant on the trading block … remember, James Harden, who at the time was the 6th man of the year, fetched two players (Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb) and two 1st round picks.
Durant would command more. It’s funny how quickly we forgot the dominance of players when they’re injured.
Remember last year when Durant had his own ridiculous scoring binge? Last January, Durant averaged 35.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 6.1 apg and shot 54/43/89. Nevertheless, if Durant drags his feet on signing an extension next season as is expected, Sam Presti will have quite the conundrum on his hands.