Care for a switch? Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t you just love trade ideas? I know I do.
After the Kevin Durant departure from Oklahoma City, the Thunder faces a little dilemma, what to do with Russell Westbrook?
With their championship odds dropping, and Westbrook entering the final year of his deal, there could be a scenario where Rus repeats what KD did, and just leave OKC in free agency come next summer. While that’s another year away, there should be some concern, and some decisions to make, to whether gamble on the idea that Westbrook stays, or move him now so to not lose him without getting anything back.
Let’s go now a bit up north, where the Minnesota Timberwolves have a young core of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins who are slowly but surely growing into All-Star caliber talents. Towns could eventually be a franchise player type of guy with his all around skills and versatility. They also have Zach LaVine, who’s also developing into a good Guard, capable of ball handling, shooting and with his elite athleticism, can learn how to be a very good defender. The Wolves also just drafted PG Kris Dunn, a prospect who’s known for his great physical tools, scoring and playmaking ability, and his defensive potential.
Together, those are four great prospects to have, but are possibly no where near ready to compete for another few years. Down under in Oklahoma City, a contender is on the verge of either trying to sneak into a low playoffs seeding or fully rebuild.
Somewhere, in this world, there’s a trade idea between two teams that could potentially help both franchises.
Minnesota trades Kris Dunn, Andrew Wiggins
Oklahoma City trades Russell Westbrook
Could be crazy, right? Not really.
Why for Oklahoma City?
Trading Russell Westbrook means OKC will now embrace a rebuild. And what better way to rebuild than have a Rookie of the Year, a 20 points per game scorer in his 2nd year in the league, who’s still ONLY 21 years old? There is something better.
Add another high upside prospect along with that 21 year old, ROTY, 20PPG kid.
The Thunder can start rebuilding with Andrew Wiggins and Kris Dunn in the fray. Add to them Steven Adams (turning 23), Victor Oladipo (just 24) and Domantas Sabonis (20) and you have a young core of 5 players who can develop into All-Star level talent.
Kris Dunn should be included in this theoretical deal. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
This will be an unprecedented rebuild, as all position will be covered if this trade happens, and all these young guns can learn together, all while they all play and share the court together. Wiggins has already shown he can make shots, and has a lot of room to grow, especially on his jump shooting. If Dunn pans out, the NBA is looking at a PG who can create not only for himself, but for others and play with poise. Oladipo is a solid 15 points per game scorer with constant improvement on his 3 point shooting. Sabonis is pegged as a tough PF who can score on the block, and has the potential to be develop a solid 3PT shooting. And then there’s Adams who can be a tough take on the inside.
That’s a very intriguing young core who can score in a variety of ways. But wait, there’s more.
This team could end up being a defensive beast of a squad. Adams can protect the paint with the best of them. Both Adams and Sabonis can grab rebounds. Wiggins and Oladipo are considered great defenders from the perimeter, and is still improving thanks to their elite athleticism. Dunn is know for his defense coming out of Providence. This could be a starting 5 capable of defending anyone and any style, and with a few years of development and familiarization from playing together, the NBA could be looking at one, if not, the top defensive team in the league
It will not be a bad haul for giving up a top 5 player. The future would be very bright, a perfect rebuild.
Why for the Timberwolves?
Russell Westrbook give the Timberwolves a legitimate star top 10, something they haven’t had since Kevin Love was traded to Cleveland (for Andrew Wiggins). But this is different. Westbrook is an MVP talent contender, and will be for another 5-7 years. He’s an alpha dog that fills out the stat sheet better than Love had. And, unlike Kevin Love, he’s an elite defender, with an elite player personality that will draw a lot more attention.
He will also be paired with Tom Thibodeau. And while there maybe a clash of competitive personalities, there’s no question that he will also be the best coach Rus will ever have, with track records of being able to develop successful careers All-Star of Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose. As good as Westbrook is now, it’s scary to think that Thibs can tap in into unknown territories and make Rus even better than he is, as he has done so in the past.
The Wolves can sport this dynamic duo moving forward. Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Also making this interesting, is that Minnesota will now sport a combo of two elite guys with Westbrook and Towns, which games and personalities absolutely compliment each other. Westbrook being the alpha, and Town being the quiet beta who’s as good as any alpha there is. Town’s ability to hit three’s makes Westbrook’s pick and roll action with him deadly. And Town’s willingness to share the basketball could mean he will have no problem having Westbrook leading the attack. Both can also anchor defenses on their own sides of the court, with Towns developing a good interior defense, and Westbrook being able to lock down almost anyone on the perimeter.
Having Towns and Thibs, and Zach LaVine being the third star could also be a good piece for Russell Westbrook to look at and resign with the Wolves. Not only can the Wolves offer the most money, but they would have cap room, LaVine, Towns and a lot of flexibility moving forward, and they kept their 1st round pick next year. They will have the ability to build a contender in a year’s time.
Having a duo of elite guys, a young borderline star, and a tough but successful coach will also make Minnesotta a viable Free Agent destination, despite it’s small market designation. The Wolves can easily approach names like Blake Griffin (ETO), Paul Millsap (Player Option), Serge Ibaka (unrestricted), Andre Iguodala (unrestricted), among others next year. Even with Rus signing a max, the Wolves woulds still have enough to sign another max player, and enough to build a competent complimentary piece with what’s left, making the Wolves in position to be able to go in Playoff stretches complete with offensive prowess, defense, youth and experience.
This trade could change the fate of two franchises, for the better. Both are flexible deals in the future, and both benefits from what the moving parts would bring, with the Wolves now finally going to contend, and OKC hitting the restart button after their window closes. This is a very plausible deal with great future ramifications in the NBA.
And it’s TOO interesting not to be at least considered.