It’s nice to be relevant
The worst thing in the NBA is being stuck. You don’t want to be Orlando or Sacramento or even Atlanta, for that matter. You want to be relevant. A superstar does that, but a superstar who re-ups for five seasons makes you marketable for the long term. This is a great move for the team, obviously.
It’s a better move for the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise. By keeping Westbrook for the long-term it means the league will be talking about Thunder basketball and the team will always be in the playoff/title chase. There aren’t many teams who can be in that kind of club.
So what if Paul George and Carmelo Anthony leave?
The Thunder, by all accounts, projections and conventional wisdom, should be one of the best teams in the Western Conference this season. And unless the team implodes under the weight of its super-stardom, ultimately it doesn’t really matter if George and Anthony leave at the end of this season.
If the Thunder win big this year, other superstars will come to Oklahoma City. Yes, the Thunder haven’t signed any big-name free agents in the past, but a successful season this year will show potential free agents Westbrook is a desirable teammate to join forces with.
Naturally, if the team falls apart, all bets are off, but that shouldn’t happen. There are under-the-radar role players like Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson who will be good complements to the three stars. Steven Adams and Andre Roberson should flourish, but more importantly Westbrook could be even better this season now that he doesn’t have to carry the team or carry the burden of contract talks. A season like that will certainly make Oklahoma City attractive to free agents in the near future.
OKC’s general manager gets a lot of credit for who he’s drafted and for shaping the organization – rightfully so. He also gets a bit of blame for who he’s drafted and losing out on James Harden and Kevin Durant – also, rightfully so.
But Presti deserves the ultimate credit this offseason for “going for it.” He made big moves, spent big dollars and recognized the need for Oklahoma City to remain in the picture among the leaders in the league. Presti also deserves credit for learning from whatever mistakes were made previously.
Listen, we’ll never know what happened, truly, with Harden and why Presti felt the need to trade him. And perhaps, one day, we’ll get the real story of what happened with Durant and the craziness of the 2016 summer. Maybe.
Whatever happened, Presti rallied. He figured out how to get Anthony and George to Oklahoma City and also secured the biggest move – getting Westbrook to re-sign. Back in 2012 it seemed like KD and Russ would never leave, and as this offseason wore on, it sorta seemed like there was no way Russ would come back. Presti has to be given credit for making it happen.