The Oklahoma City Thunder roster underwent a complete overhaul in less than a week.
Oklahoma City completed their third major trade when they sent Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets in exchange for two future first-round selections, two pick swaps and Chris Paul, according to the ESPN on Thursday.
Westbrook was the second top-level player the Thunder dealt away this offseason. They moved Paul George — who finished third in the MVP voting in 2018-19 — to the Los Angeles Clippers and received five first-round selections, two pick swaps, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari in return.
The Thunder then sent forward Jerami Grant to the Denver Nuggets for another first-round pick.
#ThunderUp @shaiglalex— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) July 10, 2019
→ 6' 6" guard
→ Born in Canada
→ Drafted 11th overall in 2018 (Univ of Kentucky)
→ 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie Second Team
→ Started 72 of 83 games in rookie season
→ 2018-19: 10.8 ppg / 48% fg / 37% 3p pic.twitter.com/dUQuF7d3Ut
In the blink of an eye, the Thunder went from a team that seemed to have championship aspirations to a franchise entering a rebuild. Oklahoma City finished with a 49-33 record last season, had two stars on their roster long term and some solid surrounding talent around them, including Grant, Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder.
George, however, forced the Thunder's hand after he reportedly asked to be dealt in hopes of teaming up with Kawhi Leonard and the pair ended up together in Los Angeles.
After that trade, the Thunder needed to move in a different direction and they did quite well for themselves.
Oklahoma City acquired eight first-round picks over the last week and they should have the opportunity to draft plenty of young, controllable players to replenish their rotation. The team could also elect to package some of those picks in a deal for a different star, should one become available.
But, that is not all the Thunder added. Gilgeous-Alexander is a promising guard with plenty of upside. He could develop into a more than adequate replacement for Westbrook, with a much better contract.
"The Thunder thanks Paul for his contributions to the organization and our community. We are proud that Paul is a part of our history as an organization and that some of the best basketball of his career was in Oklahoma City." - GM Sam Presti pic.twitter.com/L725MZZ4Xw— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) July 10, 2019
Gallinari is a reliable three-and-D player on an expiring deal. If the Thunder elect to hold onto him, he will be a consistent contributor. If not, there is a good chance they can flip him for another pick or young player.
Paul, meanwhile, is a nine-time All-Star who still provides value as a scorer and distributor, despite the massive amount of money remaining on his contract (three years, $124.1million). He could still receive interest on the trade market and Oklahoma City could acquire additional assets if they decide to move him again.
Despite losing some of the league's biggest names, Thunder general manager Sam Presti has set his team up to be competitive in the future.
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