Russell Westbrook headed to The Big Easy?

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To the fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder, this statement will resonate with you: It’s so hard to say good-bye. Kevin Durant, the team’s star small forward, is now a part of the Stephen Curry-led Golden State Warriors. Durant has been a model of consistency for the Thunder, and his presence on the court for them will be missed. Fans in Oklahoma City are not pleased with Durant’s decision to take his talents to Golden State.

However, the fans are not going to like what happens next. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City’s All-Star point guard, is scheduled to become a free-agent in 2017. Since Durant is no longer with the team, no one knows if he is willing to sign an extension. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported this: “If Westbrook chooses not to extend his contract this summer, multiple league executives told ESPN they believe the Thunder will consider fielding trade offers for Westbrook.”

Let’s be honest. Westbrook is not going to sign an extension, so the Thunder should just look for trade offers now. The New Orleans Pelicans is a team that may try to trade for the five-time All-Star. New Orleans is on the cusp of being a great team in the West. Led by power forward Anthony Davis, the Pelicans are ready to go deep into the playoffs and compete for a championship. Davis, a three-time All-Star, is arguably the best big man in the NBA. He can play with his back to the basket, rebound, stretch the floor, and play incredible defense.

Davis isn’t the only player on the Pelicans with a lot of talent. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday are exceptional players who can score and play defense on the perimeter. New Orleans also drafted Buddy Hield out of Oklahoma with the sixth pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Hield can score from anywhere on the court, and he is lethal from beyond the arc.

New Orleans should trade Evans, Holiday, and multiple draft picks to Oklahoma City for Westbrook. You are probably asking yourself this question right now: Why should this trade happen? Well, the Pelicans need another player to take some of the pressure off of Davis. Furthermore, Evans and Holiday are not stars, but they are good players. Oklahoma City needs to start rebuilding. Evans and Holiday are both young players who have experienced success in the NBA.

Last season, Evans averaged 15.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 6.6 assists. Holiday averaged 16.8 points, three rebounds, and six assists. Both players are quality starters.

Having a team that consists of Davis, Westbrook, and Hield would immediately strike fear into the hearts of opposing players in the NBA. Teams are not going to double-team Davis in the post if Westbrook and Hield are on the perimeter.

New Orleans deserves to win a championship. Westbrook would increase the Pelicans’ chances of winning one because of his scoring and passing abilities, explosiveness, and defense. Davis and Westbrook would make a great one-two punch. Don’t you agree? 

“The Big Four” in Golden State?

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The Golden State Warriors already have two phenomenal sharpshooters like point guard Stephen Curry and shooting guard Klay Thompson. Shouldn’t that be enough? Don’t forget to add in power forward Draymond Green, one of the best two-way players in the NBA. Sure, the Warriors suffered a heartbreaking NBA Finals defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but that’s all in the past. Golden State is looking forward to making a huge splash in free-agency by luring in Oklahoma City Thunder’s small forward Kevin Durant.

According to cbssports.com’s Ananth Pandian, the “Warriors’ front office is planning on sitting down once free agency starts with Durant to discuss the opportunity in Golden State.” Golden State, along with other suitors, are scheduled to meet with him when free-agency starts on July 1. Durant is one of the best players in the NBA, and he is a lethal scorer. He stands at 6-foot-9 and weighs 240 pounds. Durant is a threat from beyond the arc and in the paint.

He can shoot 3-pointers as well as anyone in the NBA, and he is fearless when driving to the hoop. Durant’s playing style is reminiscent of George Gervin because he is smooth and patient with the ball in his hands. Last season, he averaged 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and five assists per game.

You are probably asking yourself this question right now: Why should the Warriors pursue Durant in free-agency when the team does not need any more scorers? If you were watching the NBA Finals, then you saw the Cavaliers play tight defense on Curry, Thompson, and Green and left players like small forward Harrison Barnes open from beyond the arc. While Cleveland allowed him to take uncontested shots, he kept missing. He shot 35 percent from the field in the Finals, according to desmoinesregister.com’s Tommy Birch.

Imagine if Durant was the one attempting all of those open shots. He would have made most of them. Barnes’ abysmal shooting percentage in the Finals is one of the reasons why Cleveland forced a Game 7 and avoided losing the series 4-1.

If Durant does sign with the Warriors, he would bolster their starting lineup and take a lot of pressure off of Curry. Besides, Barnes is scheduled to become a free-agent, and the Warriors are not interested in re-signing him.

Durant would give the Warriors another lethal scoring option, and a player who attracts double-teams. Some fans do not want to see Durant play for the Warriors because they believe the team already has a lot of talent.

Those fans are correct, but great teams are always looking for ways to improve. It’s clear that Durant wants to play on a team that has the talent to win multiple championships. Is there a better team to sign with than Golden State? No.

Sfgate.com’s Rusty Simmons said, “Thompson and Curry will be part of the Warriors’ full-court press to reach an agreement with Durant when free-agency opens this week.”

The Splash Brothers are trying to help the Warriors’ front office make a splash in free-agency. Will it work? Golden State better hope so. If it does, folks, say hello to “The Big Four.”

Follow me on Twitter @KaleelWeatherl1

Palmer Alexander III: A Life Saturated With Sports

@KaleelWeatherl1

55633a60effe4.imageHe is what he is. His voice is the one you hear in the barbershop; a one long-time colleague says. He does not use foul language in his writings. He writes the way that he talks, with directness, aggression, and passion.

Palmer Alexander III, 40, does not write to please readers. He coalesces his own thoughts about sports and puts them on paper to be published. Alexander is a sports columnist for the St. Louis American newspaper, a weekly paper that’s been serving the African-American community for 87 years.

“He’s definitely not the norm,” said Chip Smith, Alexander’s cousin. “He puts his soul and twist on everything. … He’s going to tell you what he thinks [whether] it’s good or bad.”

Alexander is outspoken about topics concerning sports in the St. Louis area. He does not try to get “cute” with his content. Alexander believes in being authentic. “Deliver the message straight right between the eyes. No chaser,” he said.

He is a sports fanatic. His whole life has been centered around it. Instead of writing, he had aspirations of becoming a basketball player growing up in North St. Louis, Mo. His passion for sports was evident at a young age. In high school, he used to read the newspaper to look up his opponents’ stats. He never imagined that he would one day work in sports media.

Alexander played basketball for Riverview Gardens High School in St. Louis, from his freshman to junior year. After getting cut from Riverview Gardens in 1992, he transferred to North Technical High School in Florissant, to play basketball in his senior year.

He remembers his basketball playing days vividly. Alexander reminisces about the times where he scored baskets for his team to propel them to victories. And he remembers throwing jaw-dropping, no-look passes to teammates to cause the crowd’s noise level to crescendo. He enjoyed the pandemonium.    

After graduating from high school, Alexander enrolled in the Naval Station Great Lakes, a naval boot camp located in North Chicago, Ill. He says his time at the Naval Station Great Lakes “just wasn’t the right fit from [the] jump…I was in Basic Training in Great Lakes, Illinois aka [the] Great Mistake.” He then returned to St. Louis and started working out. 

He then noticed that the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) office was downtown. So, he decided inquire about the CBA because he wanted to continue playing basketball.

“I was only 18. And the commissioner of the league was Mark Lamping, who is now in the front office of the Jacksonville Jaguars. [He] told me to think about what I’m doing because I signed a waiver giving up my college eligibility if I entered the CBA Draft in 1994,” Alexander said. 

Of course, he didn’t get drafted. He did receive a letter from the Quad City Thunder and was invited for a tryout. Alexander needed permission from his parents to sign the waiver. He never tried out for the team because his father would not sign the consent form to allow him to participate.

His father was upset that he signed his college eligibility away. As a result, his father said he needed to get a job since he didn’t want to enroll into a college. Alexander stopped playing basketball in 1995 while playing in the Midnight League in St. Louis.

“I played against some of the greats like Demetrius Alexander, a 6’8 big man who was smooth. And I knew the game very well. I played the game on the court with my mind, and I felt that I would make a great commentator because of the way I saw the game,” Alexander said.

Alexander’s career in sports media started off on a locally produced show called “Chalk Talk” that was hosted by Randy Karraker on Charter Communications in St. Louis. He was also on a show called “Primetime Sports” with Randy Gardner on News 20 in Black Jack, Missouri. Alexander then decided to go look for a job at the St. Louis American newspaper. He wanted to write about football.

“I noticed that the St. Louis American really didn’t have anyone doing football, so I approached them. And the rest was history,” Alexander said. He has been a columnist for the St. Louis American newspaper since Aug. 2004.

As a columnist, his job is to insert his own opinions about sports, but he still has to do some research on whatever topic he is writing about. Alexander “stack thoughts” and retrieve them in his mind when preparing sports stories.

Not only is Alexander a columnist, but he is also an on-air talent for “N The Zone Show.” Alexander describes the podcast as a “mixed bag of some of everything.” He enjoys doing the podcast with executive producer Arlington Lane.

“I’m not the easiest person to work with. And he has done a great job of making the ideas in my head come to life. He’s shown the ability to make it sound the exact way I envisioned it. The show is hard-hitting. We push the limits and people like it,” Alexander explained. 

Lane said that Alexander is the same off the air as he is on it. Sometimes he can be serious, and sometimes he can laugh and joke. They talk to each other twice a day, and Lane said he is his “go-to for advice.”

Lane likes Alexander’s passion for sports. “He’s aggressive. But that’s good for me. I need that aggression. It truly helps me to become the best producer that I can be,” Lane said. He also thinks of Alexander as an “older brother.”

Aside from their podcast, Lane believes Alexander is very important to the St. Louis American sports section.