By Gordon Robinson
Russell Westbrook has been on a hot streak lately carrying the Oklahoma City Thunder on his back into the playoff race with Kevin Durant on the sideline with an injured foot. This streak has a lot of talking heads saying that now is the time to put KD35 on the trading block since he is set to become a free agent in 2016. The theory is “get something for him before he walks away and build around Westbrook.” Well that theory stinks and here is why…
Even though Russell Westbrook is showing that he is a team leader and can carry the load, he is still a very emotional player. If he comes down and makes a turnover, many times he will compound the bad situation by trying to make it up all on his own. So a turnover will turn into a forced three pointer and if that is missed you can expect another forced shot. Kevin Durant allows for some emotional stability and can (at times) get the ship back on course.
My next question is who do you get for Kevin Durant? Unless you are bringing back a bonafide superstar (which may or not vibe with Westbrook) then you will never get your value back. Most trades like this do not pan because the players or draft picks that will shipped to OKC cannot replace Durant on the floor or in the hearts of the fans.
Finally, as a general manager, you never want it on your record for being the one who traded “The Man.” We are just getting over the Dominique Wilkins trade here in Atlanta and fans look at everyone in management with the side eye to this day. If Durant leaves and goes on to win more MVPs and or a championship, Thunder fans will never let their front office live it down unless Oklahoma City goes on to win some trophies themselves.
Russell Westbrook gives off some of that Kobe Bryant vibe and if you get rid of Kevin Durant, with the way he looks to take control of the ball, it may be hard to recruit someone to come in and play with him unless traded in. The window for the Thunder to win a championship is already closing and if you choose to move Kevin Durant now, you decrease your championship chances that much more.