What are the chances Westbrook continues to tank this season, OKC extends him for less money, then he regains his form next year? — Steve P.
This question was asked before Westbrook started playing like himself again, but I think it still applies.
What the real question here is, would it be better if Westbrook kind of had a down year while heading into his contract stuff? The answer is yes, and no. Yes, because the less money Oklahoma City has to pay Westbrook, the more chance of keeping James Harden and Serge Ibaka. No, because the Thunder’s success rides largely on how well Westbrook plays. So if you’re mildly excited about Westbrook not playing well because it might mean he gets less money, it’s best to chill with that.
The real issue here is that the Jan. 25 deadline for Westbrook’s extension is coming and coming fast. And from what I hear and understand and read, it’s by no means a foregone conclusion that a deal is done before Jan. 25. Why? Because the money isn’t making sense right now. Part of me wonders if Presti is waiting to see what happens with Westbrook’s season to see if he qualifies for the Rose Rule extension. Because if the Thunder max out Westbrook now, he could retroactively be awarded that extra five percent, which would devastate the Thunder’s cap. It’s a risk to let him go to restricted free agency, but not really. OKC can still match on any offer and likely would. But at that point the Thunder would have all the information needed to make a deal. As long as it doesn’t bother or offend Westbrook, I think that might be the best move for OKC.
If the choice were Harden over Russell, do you think that Maynor possesses the potential to be a starter capable of logging 30+ min a game or would the team be left searching for an outside option? — Brent B.
I think the Thunder would still be a good team with Maynor running point guard full time and Harden as the second scorer to KD. But the Thunder are better with all three. But you already know that. I’ve gone over what scenarios work and don’t about a billion times in my head and right now, I think I’m going to just choose to live in the now without worrying too much about what’s going to happen with the core.
Ah, who am I kidding, I’m gnawing on my kitchen table right now worrying about it.
Are the Thunder a better team with KD scoring less and creating more? — Phil S.
I think Scott Brooks deserves some credit for how he’s used Harden, Durant and Westbrook so far this season. All three are bringing the ball up.All three are initiating offense. It’s a new wrinkle and it takes some pressure off of Westbrook to figure out how to get a halfcourt set going all on his own.
And why not do it? Durant’s proving that he can set teammates up really well. We already knew Harden and Westbrook could do it, so why not utilize the talents of every player to their full ability. It makes the Thunder way less one dimensional. It unchains Westbrook some, it lets Harden do what he’s incredibly gifted at (create) and it makes Durant a more dangerous weapon.
I don’t know if it’s better for Durant to score 25 points with five assists rather than 30 points and two assists, but I do know that the Thunder are scary good offensively when KD is doing both. Westbrook’s assists are down this season, but where he’s missing those three assists a game are being made up by Durant and Harden.
Do you think the Thunder would have any interest in signing Jeff Green to a 2-year deal for $6.5 million ($5,000,000 this season, and $6,000,000 next season when he’s healthy), possibly with a team option for a 3rd year for like $8 million? — John M.
That’s way too much money for a guy that’s coming off a missed season and heart surgery. But I have heard a lot of talk about Green returning to the Thunder next season. I can’t see it happening unless he attracts very little interest elsewhere. We know that the Thunder and Sam Presti love him, but Green is going to have to take something like a one-year, $3 million deal to play backup to KD for 15 minutes a game. Considering he got $9 million from Boston to be a key rotation guy, I doubt he’s going to want that.
Look, I love Uncle Jeff. I wish him the best. But he’s not coming back to OKC. I know it’s fun to think about but it’s best for him, and the Thunder, for him to go elsewhere and play where he can fully exercise his ability in the right situation and role.
What happens if Reggie Jackson does a really good job this season? Does that make Maynor expendable, especially coming off a knee injury? Or even Jackson expendable? Surely there’s not enough room for both if they’re both good, right? — James G.
That, is a great question. I have no idea. Maynor is a restricted free agent in 2013, so that means the Thunder would get one more full season with him before that. Jackson is signed through 2015.
Obviously there isn’t room to keep both. Both in the sense of money and playing time. You can’t have three good point guards on the team. That of course assumes Westbrook is part of the long-term future, but I would think the Thunder would have to pick between Jackson and Maynor at some point. Maynor is good enough to start for a lot of teams and may want that opportunity. Jackson may get that way himself. So what we might see is a revolving door of young backups playing behind Russell Westbrook. Use either Jackson or Maynor to trade up to hand pick a young guard and then start all over. But you’re not going to see all three stay on the team for the long term, unless Jackson slides over to play shooting guard.
Isn’t KD just the coolest? — Royce Y.
Again, great question Royce Y. And yes, yes he is.
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