This post has NOT been accepted by the mailing list yet.
You know a trade is good when even the downside has upside. Think of this as scenario: Russell Westbrook, basking in the Robert George media hype, confirms to a five-year supermax proxy to stay in Ok City, George products for L. A., and the Thunder rebuild again with only Westbrook and Steven Adams tied to big-money long-term contracts.
You might quibble with how nice that upside is. There is risk in ponying up 40 percent of the cap to Westbrook as he passes 30; he's a so-so player with the dice who relies on athleticism, with knee surgery in the rearview. That is not the profile of a player who typically ages well. How the Thunder would lure surrounding talent for Westbrook and Adams is unclear.
But for this team, in this market, that path is better than losing Westbrook outright come early july or next. The Thunder in Ok City have been either cute-bad, contender-level good, or a enchanting show of howling Westbrook triple-doubles. They have never been just plain bad. What would that look like?
They could still end up there. George wants to go to L. A., and the team in the NBA city that is basically the whole opposite of L. A. just ncaa basketball jersey took a flier on him within the last few year of his contract. If Westbrook has no faith George cheap basketball jerseys will stay, he may think about that supermax. There is a reason Sam Presti, the Thunder's unflappable GM, led the fight against lottery reform three years ago.
If you might face that unpleasant reality eventually, you might as well take a ditch stop with a George-Westbrook duo. The Thunder can always hold their own George auction if need be. They essentially bought and sold Serge Ibaka, on an expiring deal, for Robert George. The Magic bought and sold Ibaka for Terrence Ross and a pick (since bought and sold) in the 20s. Yeesh.
This is almost a risk-free gamble for the Thunder. Victor Oladipo is a nice player, but he's 25, and still hasn't already resulted in the two-way wing monster some planned. He's an average 3-point player with the dice whom opponents leave open, an erratic drive-and-kick guy, and a so-so defender with inconsistent habits. He's coming off the worst season of his career by most measures, although playing alongside Westbrook in the highest-usage season in recorded NBA history deflated everyone's numbers. Still: The fit was awkward.
Oladipo is fine. He's also making $21 million per year, a price point at which you desire to get better than fine. Domantas Sabonis, also headed to Indiana, is a mildly intriguing prospect who might turn into a playmaking power forward with some 3-point range. He flamed out after a promising start -- not unusual for rookies -- and pursued 67 free throws all season. You give up college football jersey that stuff in a second for Robert freaking George. Robert George is a boss. In the worst case, he college basketball jerseys and Westbrook leave, and you start a new tanking scheme. (Whether Presti would stick around to guide it is an interesting hypothetical. )#).