OKC Thunder fan base still processing trades and franchise shift six weeks later

OKC Thunder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by Ashlee Espinal/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Photo by Ashlee Espinal/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Exactly six weeks later OKC Thunder fans are still adjusting to the trades, loss of a franchise player and shift of the franchise into a new era.

Today marks six weeks since OKC Thunder fans got blindsided by the trade which led to Russell Westbrook‘s exit

On July 6, the OKC Thunder traded Paul George to the Clippers sparking what General Manager, Sam Presti dubbed the new R and R era. To be more specific a directional shift to reposition and replenish the franchise.

Part of that was accomplished this week as Justin Patton was added to the club. In Patton, the brain trust is taking a flier on a lottery pick with potential to develop into a solid piece of the future core at an economical cost. In all likelihood, more moves of this nature will be in the offing over the next few seasons.

The fan base is still adjusting to how abruptly the shift occurred and it continues to feel surreal. The stark contrast of who the team was for most of its tenure in the NBA is being driven home on a weekly basis.

Christmas streak ends:

First, the news that the OKC Thunder would not play on Christmas Day occurred. It ended a nine-year consecutive streak of holiday appearances. In fairness, this exclusion was anticipated. The Associations top superstars, elite clubs and frankly large television markets have always garnered this privilege. Without Russell Westbrook or another player of his ilk, a small market like Oklahoma City simply isn’t going to be among the 10 clubs tapped to participate. Still, this drove home — times, they are changing.

National TV games wane:

This week the second shoe dropped as the 2019-20 regular season schedules were released. Part and parcel of this announcement are the associated primetime televised games. The four main participants include ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV.

Again another gut check. Last season with Westbrook and Paul George on the club the OKC Thunder were featured on 27 of these dates (sans NBA TV games). The ABC games in fact primarily featured just a few teams like the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and OKC Thunder.

This year the Thunder have no games on ABC, two on ESPN and one on TNT.

More from Thunderous Intentions

It’s noticeable even in on sports programs and National media sites like ESPN where content used to plentiful about the Thunder. This, of course, is driven home every time a feature TV segment or an article focused on Russell Westbrook or Paul George runs.

Suffice to say, the R and R era won’t just shift in terms of the restructuring but many things we as fans became so accustomed to will shift. At least in the short term.

The rebuild is on:

That’s not to say the Thunder won’t ascend back up the ladder into prominence. Nor can it take away from how things the previous iteration was missing. For example, following draft prospects throughout the College season will take on a new focus. NBA Draft Lotteries and Draft Nights will be far more interesting than they’ve been in years.

Witnessing the development and rise of youngsters like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and new additions will offer a new type of excitement in OKC.  Young fans will get to learn and grow with the team as it ascends. Even the older more mature (raises hand) will get not only get to invest in a young club on the rise but ponder what additions from opponents assets could be the perfect fit or push the team over the top.

dark. Next. Grading and examining every Thunder player contract

It’s mixed blessings if you will — and it’s going to be exciting. For now, though, it still feels weird seeing Russell Westbrook clad in Rockets red. That, unfortunately, may never feel quite right.