Note: This story originally appeared in the June 15 edition of the University of Central Oklahoma's "The Vista," and is also available on its web site, uco360.com. I still wrote it.
Let me open up with a theoretical scenario.
In the other corner, you have a trade for Westbrook in exchange for the Tooth Fairy.
While the Tooth Fairy provides excellent on-court leadership and can provide a decent post presence in a pinch, trading for an imaginary character is just as believable as the notion that the Thunder need to trade Westbrook at all, if not more so.
I first started to hear trade talk involving Westbrook during the Western Conference semifinals against the Memphis Grizzlies. Following Game 3, a 101-93 overtime loss in which Westbrook lead Thunder scoring with 23 points, I was listening to the
WWLS morning show when a caller suggested that Westbrook was outgrowing his proverbial britches.
The solution, according to the caller, was to trade the youthful Westbrook to allow
Kevin Durant more shots. One of the criticisms from Game 3 was that in the final minutes, Westbrook would opt to take poor shots as opposed to setting up Durant, the two-time NBA scoring champ, or another one of the Thunder’s stable of bench shooters.
The thought was that Westbrook, a first-time All-Star this season who exploded as legitimate scoring threat, was having problems adjusting to the pass-happy aspects of the point guard position – one he didn’t play until he reached the pros.
The first name to come up was Paul, an experienced–if somewhat injury prone–point guard. Paul was widely loved when the Hornets spent two seasons in the former Ford Center following Hurricane Katrina, and has been (loudly) unhappy in the Crescent City, particularly if the Hornets are losing.
Trade a shot-happy PG still learning the position for a beloved vet in need of a change of scenery? What’s so silly about that?
The Thunder’s meteoric improvement since that first season has left fans, myself included, with somewhat unrealistic expectations for one of the youngest teams in the league.
Don’t get me wrong. OKC is Durant’s team as far as I am concerned. Durant is
Batman, Westbrook is Robin. However, just because Robin can get in a good punch for 40 points a game doesn’t mean he needs to be shipped off to Blüdhaven to become Nightwing.
Ignoring my taking the Batman reference too far, Westbrook is an outstanding guard and counterpart to Durant. The two combined over this last season to make the
Thunder one of the most offensively dangerous teams in the league. Once more, it is always reassuring that Westbrook is capable of putting in those shots if Durant is out of it, even in light of James Harden’s improvement.
Paul is a fine, if somewhat divaish, player; but let’s keep this talk of trading away an integral part of our future for a short-term fix firmly in the land of fantasy, where it belongs.
Besides, I hear the Easter Bunny is on an expiring contract and could be a great value.