Joshua Lea | July 6th, 2019
This morning, fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder are experiencing the aftermath of yet another 4th of July weekend announcement involving their team. They’ve awakened to the news of a trade that sent Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The fans are feeling the loss this morning. There is a certain lackluster vibe in the Oklahoma City air. In fact, even the sky is cloudy outside. The local sports radio stations are buzzing with talk of the future of this franchise. There’s the talk of trading Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams. There’s talk to potentially blowing up the roster completely and starting over. The Thunder have many questions they must answer before the start of the season.
If we break down the trade, you’ll see that the Thunder did what they had to do. First, they were over the cap. Secondly, they need to address the lack of advancement in the playoffs. Finally, they are probably looking at a total rebuild in the near future. Essentially, the Thunder received a draft pick from the year 2021 to 2026 and the contracts of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari. That’s a nice trade for George. However, it doesn’t help right now.
The weekend of the fourth of July is becoming a depressive reminder of just how cruel the NBA can be. If you recall, it was July 4th, 2016 when Kevin Durant announced his decision to leave Oklahoma City for the Golden State Warriors. On July 5th, 2019, George asked for a trade to the Clippers and Sam Presti made it happen. As I am writing this very line, Adrian Wojnarowski just tweeted that Westbrook and his agent are exploring options with the Oklahoma City Thunder including a possible trade.
It would appear that the ship is sinking and the Thunder are letting players swim to shore. This is an interesting time for Thunder fans. Since the Thunder made the move to Oklahoma City in the 2008-09 season, they’ve only had one losing season. That was the year they moved, winning just 23 games on the season. The Thunder have only missed the playoffs twice in the last ten seasons. This upcoming season could very well be the third.
The Thunder have enjoyed success because of personnel on their roster. This is a team that has had Durant, Westbrook, George, James Harden, Carmelo Anthony, and Serge Ibaka among others who have contributed to the Thunder’s success. Now, it would appear that the Thunder are going to blow up there roster and start from scratch. Thunder fans will have to trust the process.
It’s going to be difficult for the fans. If you know anything about Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City. The sports world here has a tradition of winning. From OU football to the Thunder, Oklahomans are used to being successful in sports. I’m not saying if the Thunder trade Westbrook that ticket sales will stop and the Thunder will become an afterthought. However, the Thunder will have to expect a slight dip in sales without a superstar.
I would expect the 2019-2020 season to be very different from previous seasons for the Oklahoma City Thunder. If the fans realize that going in, it may soften the blow of having a rough season with no real shot at the playoffs. However, all of this is predicated on if the Thunder move Westbrook in the coming days.
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