In the wake of another huge performance by Russell Westbrook on Wednesday night, which culminated in a game-clinching dunk over Clint Capela, ESPN’s Zach Lowe takes a closer look at the Thunder as they adjust to life without Kevin Durant. As Lowe details, the extension Westbrook signed earlier this year quieted trade speculation surrounding the star point guard for the time being, but the deal only added one extra year to his contract. If things go south in Oklahoma City and teams start calling again about Westbrook, the Thunder may have to “hold their noses and test the market,” since they can’t afford to lose another superstar for nothing, Lowe writes.
Here are a few more interesting tidbits of note from Lowe:
- The Thunder continue to have interest in adding a bigger wing to their roster, and Rudy Gay is among their potential targets, Lowe reports. Acquiring such a player would allow some of the members of the Thunder to move to more natural positions.
- One of those players who would be affected by an incoming wing is Victor Oladipo. The former Magic guard has started every game so far for the Thunder, but Lowe indicates that the team acquired him with the intention of making him a sixth man, in a role similar to the one James Harden once played in OKC. Trading for Gay or another wing would give the club the flexibility to shift Oladipo to the bench.
- Several sources tell Lowe that there is “no sign” that Blake Griffin has any interest in coming home and signing with the Thunder as a free agent next summer, despite reports from earlier this year that OKC had its eye on him. Of course, after extending Oladipo and Steven Adams, the Thunder aren’t expected to have any cap room in 2017 anyway, even if they were to move Enes Kanter‘s contract.
- The Thunder remain on the lookout for “incremental” roster moves, like the trade in which they acquired Jerami Grant. However, Lowe believes they’d have enough pieces to make a bigger move – perhaps for a player like Gay – when Cameron Payne gets healthy, if they want to.