With it all but certain that Russell Westbrook will be playing for a new team very soon, should the Sixers try to lure him to Philadelphia?
When Kevin Durant announced that he would be leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder in order to pursue a championship with Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, it sent shockwaves through the NBA.
A roster that was already incredibly good became practically unbeatable with the addition of Durant and many are already taking bets as to who will win Warriors/Cavaliers III when the two teams inevitably meet in the 2017 NBA Finals.
Some teams have already thrown in the towel on the 2016-17 season, deciding to opt for the NBA lottery. Others will try to make a go of it, hoping someone gets hurt so another franchise has a shot at winning the title.
Then there is the Thunder and their dynamic point guard Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook and the Thunder knew going into last season that if they were going to win a championship, it had to be now. If they came up short, Durant was likely going to leave and the Thunder would begin the process of a rebuild.
To that end, Westbrook did his part, playing in 80 games averaging 23.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 10.4 assists per contest. It sure looked like a trip to the Finals was possible when they went up on the Warriors 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals. Then everything fell apart as the Thunder lost the next three games in what can only be called an epic collapse.
Now Westbrook is going into the final year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2016-17 season. It has already been widely reported that with Durant gone there is no way Westbrook will sign any kind of extension.
Which means that if the Thunder want to get anything in return for Westbrook, they are going to need to trade him.
Several teams have already emerged as possible landing spots, including the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics.
Should the Sixers throw their hat into the ring?
There is no question that the Sixers are in desperate need of a All-Star caliber point guard. But should they give up what will assuredly be a king’s ransom to acquire Westbrook’s services?
To get Westbrook, the Sixers will definitely have to offer up either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor. Of that there is no doubt. But they will also have to offer draft picks, since that is what the Thunder will be looking for as they begin their rebuild. The Sixers currently will have two first-round picks in 2017, their own (which they can swap with the Sacramento Kings) and the Lakers’ pick, which will be protected if it falls in the top three and unprotected in 2018.
If the Sixers offer Okafor and both picks and maybe throw in another young bench player or two, it may be enough to bring Westbrook to South Philly.
But do they really want to give up that much to acquire what is essentially a one-year rental in the hopes they can sign Westbrook to a long-term deal?
Given the point the Sixers are in their own rebuild and all the questions surrounding the roster, it seems like too much of a risk. If this was a couple years from now I’d say go for it. But odds are the 76ers can draft a point guard next year with one of their two picks or trade for one with a lower asking price.
While getting Westbrook would be amazing and would instantly make the Sixers a must-see team, the timing is a few years off.
Let’s just hope Westbrook doesn’t end up in Boston with the hated Celtics.