And Then There Was One

Tuesday, July 5th 2016, 12:24 pm
By: News 9

Sam Presti’s job got a lot more difficult with Kevin Durant’s departure and it’s not going to get easier any time soon. Reports that Russell Westbrook won’t sign an extension with the Thunder before his deal expires next summer mean Presti and company have to decide between trading Westbrook or going through another sales pitch in the Hamptons.

That’s not a surprise, though. Westbrook can make record money by playing out his contract and becoming a free agent in 2017. It’ll be tough for management to trade the five-time All-Star – they’ll take the blame if the return doesn’t pan out – but it might be tougher to let him walk away for nothing like Durant.

For all the criticism Presti gets for the Harden trade, at least Oklahoma City wound up with Steven Adams and Enes Kanter because of it.

So the Thunder are stuck in the worst catch-22 in NBA history. All set up by Durant’s decision to join Western Conference rivals and mega-team Golden State. Westbrook is a superstar, but with one-year remaining on his contract he’s not as valuable a trade asset unless the team trading for him gets assurance that he’ll sign with them long-term.

So, if you’re Presti, do you take what you can get for Westbrook now, knowing you’ll take some flak for not getting enough back, a la the Harden trade? Or, do you wait it out and run the risk of Westbrook walking away for nothing like Durant?

Not saying NBA general manager is ever an easy job, but being the Thunder GM looks like a lose-lose situation right now.