Disclaimer: Westbrook is very good and very young. There has been a lot of criticism thrown at him, and i agree with most of it. But this isnt about a reactionary "we hate westbrook now" trade. I just have a trade idea as an admirer of the thunder, how they came to be (roster construction-wise), and where they are going. It'll probably get repetitive.
The trade is Westbrook, Perkins, and Robinson for Chris Paul. Or some version of that. At its very base/foundation, Westbrook for Paul.
Let me explain a little, even though i dont feel i have to. Chris paul is the best point guard in the league, by very far. This year's playoffs served as a reminder. On a bad team, with mostly role players, he put monster numbers and made LA think more than they wanted to. He is only 26. And his injury history, while a mild concern, is not an issue in the grand scheme.
The difference between a Paul-led Thunder team and a Westbrook-led Thunder team almost seems ridiculous to think about. It's like crying with a loaf of bread under your arm (if that's the saying...). But that's what life, and certainly sports, is all about. Trying to to be the best version of yourself, then be content. With Chris Paul, i think the thunder realize ALL of their potential. Everything would run smoother, as he is the best decision maker in the game. He has a team ego, not a significant individual one in terms of "getting his." And he still is very capable of getting his, efficiently, while still running the team well. He puts people in the best position to succeed, making the team succeed as a result.
This compares favorably to a westbrook team. While he and the thunder are clearly very good, I think the potential for the team is limited by his weaknesses. Just because he is bigger, stronger, and more athletic doesnt mean he is a better scorer. Because he isnt. Paul is much more efficient, with more range and consistency. His passing has obviously improved. But he'll never even come close to CP3. And while he may become a defender in the future, he certainly wouldnt be missed on that end.
I think the thunder would be guaranteed championships if a trade for Paul happened. But, with the Heat rising, i dont think a Westbrook team will be able to get over that last historic hump...unless Harden/Durant take another big step in their game. That is what makes this situation odd because everyone on the team is so young that its absurd that they are this good. Maybe i am wrong, but i think durant was exposed overtly in this series as needing to add strength/ballhandling. He struggled to get the ball and struggled to keep it. Harden had a coming out party, and i absolutely love him. I love the whole team, i am just concerned about westbrooks game and demeanor.
The thing is that i am sure similar issues have been raised recently, but i have been feeling this way for a while now. I think generally when westbrook is featured heavily compared to durant, the team has less success. This is not to say Durant is flawless, its just that westbrook's flaws are glaring.
These flaws are made more visible because of the relative availability of Chris Paul. Here's where i will address the possibility/fairness/logistics of this kind of deal. The hornets are in peril because they dont have an owner and may be moved. However, the main catalyst is that Paul is obsessed with winning and his first big contract is finally ending after next year (with a player option the year after i believe). Players have to say all this loyalty nonsense because they have to. I think we all know that he is frustrated. To all you "realists" out there with your "wait and see the facts," what were you saying before the heat thing happened? The same thing. I think Paul is almost guaranteed to leave, with his situation mirroring LeBron's (and Dwight's for that matter).
The hornets need to move on, and acquiring westbrook...instead of nothing...is clearly not a bad deal. I think that's why all of this fair. Westbrook is very young, exciting, and talented player. He isnt due to be paid until after next year, when the Hornets could match any offer sheet anyway. So they'll have their player locked down, as long as they can afford him--which i think the will be. The rationale is that Paul will want out, will probably sign sign somewhere else anyway, and Westbrook is very good and young. Pauls contract will be bigger annually too, so its not a wash. Perkins is thrown in because that is kinda what makes it fair. The thunder are in the position of power and simply need to be able to match salaries per the cap. And while this is counter to what is probably a "cut spending" philosophy as owners must pay for the team, i think it makes sense because letting paul leave without anything will put the team in more danger. What would attract anyone to that team besides just owning an NBA team? Westbrook would. He would sell some tickets and you can start rebuilding somewhat (okafor and i guess Perkins would hinder that a little money wise).
But i think perkins could also be moved because he has perceived value, which i disagree with. Which is also why id do this trade from OKC's standpoint. He is alright, ya know. Decent defender, brings toughness...but thats about it. Easily replaceable. I find it hard to believe that Cole Aldrich couldnt bring some similar attribute to that position. Also, this trade would put the thunder in position to be able to afford a free agent center. My dream, because i am a huge Oden fan, would be for the Thunder to sign him. That would be amazing, for him and Durant to be on the same team. (I know, injuries...blah blah blah)
Ultimately i think this trade makes a lot of sense for both sides. Obviously it favors the thunder, but only a little bit. There's risk on their side. But i think the dream of championship would be much more likely to become reality. They still have their cap flex (thanks to the !!ABSOLUTE BRILLIANCE!! (albeit logical and more should be able to) of the nick collison deal. That amazes me and will continue to. He is a great role player who wont take up much salary for here on out. They did that for a reason.) New Orleans gets a young stud, an energy/clubhouse guy in robinson, and a possibly tradeable asset in a defender like perkins.
Does anyone have any thoughts? Did anyone read this? I am expecting negative ten people. Not-10. Would have to have ten people read it to get to no one.