Russell Westbrook is now the face of Oklahoma! After, the Cavaliers making history by ending a 52-year championship drought and coming back from a 1-3 deficit. The Warriors came out of the wrong side of history. They blew their 3-1 lead. after having one of the greatest season in NBA history, by winning 73 games. The Warriors were destined to have an offseason a regret and disappointment, but that reality was smashed when they signed Kevin Durant. The Thunder were early favorites to win the Finals after bold moves. However, Kevin betrayed the same organization that he had been drafted to, leaving them in disarray. Leaving them in the hands of Russell Westbrook.
Oklahoma City made a big splash in the offseason, after their meltdown in the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors. They traded long-time OKC Thunder forward, Serge Ibaka, for a young Victor Oladipo, Ersan Illysova, and the draft rights to the rookie forward Domantas Sabonis. This trade caused NBA fans, mostly Thunder fans, to go wild. The Thunder’s odds of winning the skyrocketed.
This could have been the year they won it all, but it was too good to be true. We knew that ex-Thunder forward, Kevin Durant, was a free agent, but we expected him to re-sign. Especially after this trade, we all believed he would return to win a Championship for the franchise that drafted him and has been playing for his whole career.
However, this was not to be. Durant left the team for Golden State. NBA fans and especially Thunder fans were outraged and rebuked at Durant. His legacy was tarnished. He not only ruined the Thunder’s chances of winning a Championship, but took away their hope. He betrayed the Thunder and quickly became a villian.
The aftermath of Durant leaving, led the Thunder to making some tough decisions. Russell Westbrook was going to be a free agent next, and Sam Presti, Thunder General Manager, did want to go through another superstar leaving. He waived ex-Thunder guard Dion Waiters, to allow the team to sign an extension with Westbrook. Westbrook now had to make a choice: not re-sign and get traded, or re-sign and be Oklahoma City’s hero. The whole Oklahoma Community counted on Russ staying, and he came through. Russell got a three year extension, with the third year as a player option (meaning he can opt out of his contract) for $85.7 million. Russell sealed his fate for becoming Oklahoma’s hero.
Now that Westbrook resigned, the Thunder could look for options to replace Durant and improve the team. The Thunder acquired Joffrey Lauvergne (PF), Alex Abrines (SF), and Ronnie Price (PG) after Durant left. This team consists of very young players, yet no all-star forward to replace Durant. Fans still want a better forward to replace Durant, and what Presti will do is a wild card. He could pull off a blockbuster trade that would make the Thunder a Finals contender once again, or he might have a plan for the young players on the roster. One way or another, it is going to be an interesting season for the Thunder.