A simple story from a long time New York Knicks fan went viral and social media blew up regarding the possible trade of Russell Westbrook to the New York Knicks for Tyson Chandler. The writer’s reasoning was sound – the Knicks need a point guard and someone to pair with Carmelo Anthony and the Oklahoma City Thunder could use a talented and defensive minded center who can put the ball in the basket from time to time.
Problem is (for Knicks fans) – there is no way the Thunder would look at doing something like this, no matter how well Reggie Jackson has filled in for Westbrook and shown that he is a starting point guard in this league.
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are the heart and soul of this Thunder team. Both signed extensions with the team with little fanfare and both want to win and win for OKC. They have been successful in each of their seasons and their championship window is just about to open. Both stars will hit their primes and along with Serge Ibaka, this version of the “Big Three” will be tough to beat.
The Thunder have planned for this – the reason they moved Jeff Green, James Harden and even let Kevin Martin go was all about retaining their core and winning a championship. Sustainable success – the Sam Presti mantra. Why would he veer away from that just because Kevin Durant has reached greater heights and their back up point guard has had a break out season?
He wouldn’t. Even though the center position is arguably where the Thunder are the most vulnerable, they have a long term vision for that role – Steve Adams, their most recent draft pick. He has shown huge potential and development in a short space of time and will likely push Kendrick Perkins out of the starting lineup as early as next season. He is athletic, defensively minded, strong and has a decent (even if it is limited) offensive game. Sound like someone you know? Adams is far cheaper and far younger than Chandler though.
If I was a New York Knicks fan, I guess I would be trying to find some silver lining in this season as well. They have been very poor, too reliant on Carmelo Anthony and have the insecurity of impending free agency to worry about. Not ideal.
The Thunder on the other hand can look at this season and be impressed. They have had their ups and downs but have come out on top with the best record in the Western Conference. They have beaten their main rivals and all without their All Star point guard. When Russ returns, it is only going to bolster the already talented and cohesive roster.
Reggie Jackson will head back to the bench as a spark for the second unit. He will provide that offensive presence and will make the others like Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams better. He will get to go at the opponents back up point man as well, and Reggie is more often than not going to have the advantage there. Not to mention that coach Scott Brooks now has the option of playing Russ and even Kevin Durant for less minutes through the second half of the season to keep his stars fresh for the playoffs.
While this is not a “rumor” as such – more just one fans analysis and opinion (and a whole lot of hope!) it sparked some good discussion among NBA fans and Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks fans in particular. While I do think the Thunder may make a move before the trade deadline (looking at Thabo Sefolosha and the trade exception for Eric Maynor as potential pieces) I do not think this involves Russell Westbrook.
The Thunder have steadily built their roster and developed a chemistry that only comes after seasons of playing together and they are not going to change this up for someone like Chandler. Not when they might win it all this season.