The Oklahoma City Thunder are hours away from the biggest game in their franchise history when they face the Golden State Warriors in Game 7, with a trip to the NBA Finals at stake. If OKC fails to win the game, it will be considered as a big failure. The Thunder were up 3-1: in the series, to blow that sort of a lead would be an major choke. A win could heavily influence Kevin Durant to return to the Thunder instead of look elsewhere in free agency. A loss could mean it’s time to make big changes. Those changes would consist of a trade of Durant or Russell Westbrook.
On the surface, it sounds crazy to consider trading Durant or Westbrook. They are widely considered two of the top five players in the league. It would be hard to justify a trade of either to the fan base. A return for either player won’t be equal value. So who would be the teams that could make a trade work? Well, only one seems to realistically come to mind–Clippers. Here is how a trade for both players could work out through the NBA trade machine:
Kevin Durant to the Clippers for Blake Griffin. This trade actually works player for player. Why would OKC consider trading Durant to the Clippers? Well, let’s say Durant decides he has given his all to the Thunder and wants to seek a new team to try to win a championship. The Clippers have been mentioned as a potential destination for Durant.
Kevin Durant to Clippers for Blake Griffin:
Assuming Durant has made up his mind about leaving, and the Clippers would be his choice, a trade would have to be made by both teams. The Clippers don’t have enough cap room to sign him outright. If OKC was told by Durant that he wants to be a Clipper, it would be common sense for the Thunder to get something in return for him. Blake Griffin would be the ideal player to accomplish that. Griffin is from Oklahoma, so going back home would be something he would probably be okay with. Griffin is an exciting player that any fan base would love to be part of their team, so bringing back a local favorite would be a no-brainer. Lets not forget Griffin has superstar potential. This would be the most fair trade and return for Durant that the Thunder could get.
Russell Westbrook and Anthony Morrow to Clippers for Chris Paul:
A player-for-player trade doesn’t work, so throwing in Anthony Morrow makes it complete. Why would the Clippers trade for an older Paul, when Westbrook is a top 5 player? It’s the same reason the Kyrie Irving for Paul trade would work. Paul is a good fit next to Durant. Paul is a pass-first floor general and the there will be no debate that Durant is the clear number one guy.
The Westbrook-Durant dynamic hasn’t been great at all times. They have been subtly clashing over the years. Both guys are alpha dogs: they want the ball, they want the final shot, they want the glory. Splitting it isn’t that appealing. With Paul, you wouldn’t have any issues. The Thunder are in a win-now mode.
Westbrook, 27, is entering his prime and is four years younger than Paul. A Westbrook, Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan trio would be the most explosive and athletic trio the league has ever seen. That would take “lob city” to another level. Westbrook could be the clear top dog in L.A., a place where he went to college (UCLA) and grew up. He undoubtedly wouldn’t mind going back home to play for his hometown team. A Clippers team with a young core like that would be championship quality for years to come.
Only a championship could stop the impending changes in OKC. The coach isn’t going anywhere, but another season without a championship will signal times for drastic changes. Durant and Westbrook might be smart to start searching for real estate in L.A. A storm is brewing. Welcome to Hollywood.