When Paul George was a free agent last offseason, people expected him to go to the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead he decided to stay with superstar Russell Westbrook and try and win a championship in Oklahoma City with the Thunder. Sadly that did not last long.
After being recruited by Kawhi Leonard in recent weeks, George requested a trade from the Thunder so that he could be shipped to the Los Angeles Clippers so he could pair up with the two-time NBA Finals MVP.
The trade was shocking to the league. No one expected George to be dealt from a Thunder team that had its eyes set on trying to make it through the playoffs. But sports are sports and the NBA is a crazy place.
The Thunder got a HUGE haul for the all-star out of Fresno State, but the move puts them in total rebuild mode. With so many picks and very little elite talent left on the roster, the Thunder appear to have no shot in competing for the Western Conference crown. The Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, and (now) both Los Angeles teams are all vastly better than OKC. That is just a fact.
With that in mind, the Thunder need to completely dive in on a rebuild. NBA purgatory is no place anyone wants to be, so that means Oklahoma City needs to try and deal the aformentioned Westbrook as soon as possible. With the former UCLA Bruin on the roster, the Thunder would be one of those bubble teams just hanging around the bottom of the Western Conference fighting for the eighth seed. In todays NBA that gets you nowhere.
So where is the best spot for Westbrook to land? Right now everyone is saying the Miami Heat, but I can’t see him meshing with Jimmy Butler very well. But just because I think that does not mean he won’t end up there. That is probably his most likely destination at the moment, but the team I think would fit him best is the Detroit Pistons.
“What, the PISTONS?!?” Yes the Pistons. Detroit is in the NBA purgatory I referred to earlier. They are tied up in big contracts with both Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin. Detroit also has very few young players to lean on. Luke Kennard is not going to be a guy to build your team around.
With no where to really go, trading for Westbrook could be a smart move. I am no Westbrook fan but him and the other two Detroit stars could potentially do something in a weak Eastern Conference. His ball dominant style would work well with both Drummond and Griffin, who are both premier post players.
Trading for Westbrook definitely has its risks (clashing personalities, aging player, big contract, etc.) but Detroit has become an irrelevant team in the NBA. They haven’t won anything since Chauncey Billups was in the league. They need to invigorate the fans and franchise: trading for Westbrook would do that.
-Jarrod Ribaudo (@Jribs53)