Towards an OKC Thunder superteam

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Here in the Sooner State, Oklahomans have been feeling good about Russell Westbrook winning the MVP, while facing up to the fact that the Thunder is never going to be competitive against the Golden State Warriors, thanks to our previous hero, Kevin Durant, bolting for the big lights and championship rings of a superteam.

Then suddenly, against all expectations, one of the biggest NBA talents, four-time All Star Paul George joined the Thunder!

Everybody wanted him.  But Thunder General Manager and deal-making genius Sam Presti engineered a trade with the Indianapol, getting George in exchange for two players.  And in doing so, he saved money, getting under the salary cap and making possible even more acquisitions.

The basketball world is wondering how the Pacers gave him up for so little and why they took Presti’s offer instead of the better ones being made by other teams.

George is signed for another year, but told the Pacers he wouldn’t be resigning because he wants to end up the Los Angeles.  They traded him to get something for him.  Of course, the Thunder are now in the same position.   They will probably only have him for one year.  But this shows Westbrook that the team means to win and can be an incentive for him to sign the 5 year supermax contract.  Or, both players could go to L.A., where both of them are from.

But still, this gives the Thunder at least one year with two great players.

Paul George is said to be on the same level as Kevin Durant.  And he complements Westbrook perfectly.  He also makes up for Thunder weaknesses–namely, perimeter defense and 3-point shooting.

So maybe Oklahoma City will build a superteam.  Then again, by picking up another superstar with two first names, Chris Paul, to join James Harden, Houston may also become a superteam.

But at least Golden State will have some competition next year.

After the jump, some experts assess the trade.

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Thunder’s Russell Westbrook wins MVP

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Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder won this year’s NBA  Most Valuable Player award.

The vote wasn’t even close.  He received 69 of 101 votes, with James Harden coming in second with 22.

My logic prevailed.

Now if Oklahoma City can just keep him.  Lots of other teams are trying to put together a superteam, the only hope to defeat the Golden State Warriors.

On July 1, the Thunder can offer him a newly-possible “super-max” contract that will make him the highest paid player in the NBA.   No other team can pay him more.  But he could turn it down in hopes of winning a championship with some new team.

But no!  That will never happen.  Westbrook, unlike another MVP that I won’t mention, he being dead to me, is loyal to Oklahoma!  I hope. [Read more…]

Kevin Durant got his championship

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Last year the Oklahoma City came this close to beating the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs.  Golden State then came this close beating the Cleveland Cavaliers, but failed.

Whereupon, on the 4th of July,  the Thunder’s superstar Kevin Durant signed with Golden State, putting an already super team into the realm of being virtually unbeatable.

So now Golden State has won the national championship.  Of course they did.  And they will probably keep winning them.

Here in Oklahoma, we’re kind of bitter about this.  We loved KD and put him in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, but his jumping ship to our nemesis felt like a betrayal.

That our other superstar, Russell Westbrook, chose to stay with us made us feel better.  His record-setting triple double season making him the top contender for the Most Valuable Player salvaged the season.

As I mentioned earlier, one Oklahoma fan got a petition going to change the name of Durant, Oklahoma (no relation), to Westbrook.

But now the season is over.  KD earned his championship ring by being the MVP of the series.  He has overshadowed the other Warriors, including Steph Curry, with his superpower of being able to sink three point shots from any place on the floor.  Now the Warriors are being called KD’s team.   That should count as some kind of victory for Thunder fans, with our guy taking over the enemy team.  But it doesn’t quite work that way.

So is this superteam good for the NBA?  People are debating that.  But surely coming up with a really good team, ideally one that can hardly be beaten, and that wins championships is the goal of professional sports.  It seems silly to blame a team for being so good.  But having one team that other teams just can’t compete with doesn’t make for interesting games.

But my prediction is that the Warriors will NOT be totally dominant in the years ahead.  Injuries happen.  (KD gets injured quite a bit.)  And free agents happen.  And teams coming out of nowhere to be genuine contenders happen.

So that’s my consolation. [Read more…]

Oklahoma feels better now

While the rest of the country was celebrating the 4th of July, my state of Oklahoma mourned, as Thunder superstar Kevin Durant declared his independence and signed with the much-resented and already-too-good Golden State Warriors.  But now we all feel better, as the Thunder’s other superstar, Russell Westbrook–instead of being traded as everyone expected–gave up next year’s free agency to sign a three-year $85.7 million contract extension.

He is staying!  He is a thrilling player, who had been somewhat in the shadow of Durant but who excelled more than usual when Durant was injured.  Westbrook, the two-time MVP of the All Star Game, is now the face of the Thunder.  And Oklahoma’s favorite athlete. [Read more…]

Kevin Durant breaks Oklahoma’s heart

A pall was cast over the state of Oklahoma as everyone was celebrating the 4th of July.  I myself was at our small town’s Independence Day Parade when we got the news.  Kevin Durant was leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder. Not just leaving but going to the Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors, with the super-record of 73-9, whom the Thunder came this close to beating in the playoffs.  The Warriors, whom Oklahoma came to know in the seven game series, the team of the below-the-belt tactics of Draymond Green.

It wasn’t the money.  Golden State offered Durant $54 million over two years, but the Thunder were offering him $201 million over five.  He apparently sees the Warriors as his best shot for a championship ring.  I should say so.  They only lost 9 games last season.  They might not lose any with Durant joining MVP Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.  The NBA suddenly becomes less competitive, less balanced, and less interesting.  With the Thunder, the team Durant has been with for his whole career and taken to the very top tier, he would have been responsible for any championship that they would win.  Now he is just joining a team that is championship-caliber without him.

As Durant’s free-agency drew near, Oklahoma became desperate to keep him.  He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.  The governor said that if he stayed she would give him a cabinet position (on sports and health or some other made-to-order commission).  Oklahoma loved “KD,” flocking to his Bricktown restaurant in their zeal  to give him more and more of their money, and KD responded with generous philanthropic gifts to local charities (including tornado relief) and fulsome expressions of appreciation for the city and the state.  So now it’s like the whole state has its collective heart broken.

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The agony of defeat

Well, the Oklahoma City Thunder, after going ahead of the Golden State Warriors 3 games to 1, ended up losing the series, losing game 7, 96-88.  This was only the 10th time out of over 200 games that a team came back like that.  In many ways, the Thunder outplayed the Warriors, but there was nothing they could do against the superpower three-point shooting of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.