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 ASSOCIATION REPORT: Second Edition

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In the second edition of “The Association,” the primary focus is on the professional level…the NBA.

Here we are in the month of February and the Oklahoma City Thunder is playing like they want to be in the NBA championship once again, even without their floor leader Russell Westbrook. Reggie Jackson is definitely picking up the slack at the 1 position, Serge Ibaka playing magnificent ball at the 4 position and DEFINITELY should have been an All-Star this year (we’ll talk about that later) while Jeremy Lamb, 3-point veteran Derek Fisher and defensive specialist Thabo Sefalosha providing great contributions from the bench. This team has been on a roll have blown out opponents in the month of January…including their 17-point win against the Miami Heat. The person behind those epic wins is their MVP for not only the team, but the league as well…Kevin Durant.

Durant is without a doubt playing the best basketball of his career. It was ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that said about Durant that he can play “any of the 4 positions.” He can. He really can. He’s a great ball-handler, he can handle the wing positions and he can post up on just about anyone. He definitely a player that is hard to guard…just ask LeBron James. In their matchup on January 29th, LeBron may have won the point battle, 34-33, but it was Durant who had the last laughs. On three different occasions, Durant buried 3-point shots in the face of James. Both guys are definitely valuable to their respective teams, but you almost can’t go against either of them. LeBron is actually having a down year…at least if you are talking about his scoring average (which is at 26 points a game), but the other numbers have remained consistent. But the guy everyone is talking about in circles…is Durant. He clearly has made it known to fans and haters that he’s tired of being second best. So far, he’s the best player. I can hear the LeBron fans immortalizing the great Ric Flair’s line, “To be the best, you got to BEAT the best.” Still, Durant is the best player.

One team you should definitely watch for is the Golden State Warriors. This team is young, energetic, highly-entertaining and VERY exciting. I haven’t seen them look this good since the days of Run TMC (TIM Hardaway, MITCH Richmond, and CHRIS Mullin). If you are looking for a “one season to the playoff” team, this is not the team for you. Mark Jackson’s boys will be in the playoffs for a while. Stephon Curry playing all-star ball as usual. He needs to make sure to let his game do the talking and not his mouth. Klay Thompson is a dead-eye shooter and can give opposing guards fits. Andrew Bogut and David Lee are very solid in the post…but health will be the issue for these two. The addition of Andre Iguodala was genius by Golden State. He doesn’t have to be THE guy for this team, all he has to do is play his role where he’s needed. I can’t forget about young guys Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and the recent acquisition Jordan Crawford (from Boston), they bring punch off the bench. The Warriors are as young as the recent Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. It may look a little far-fetched that they would be in the NBA Finals this season but they have the right pieces to make themselves a championship contender.

While the New York Knicks have been the NBA’s biggest primetime drama (yeah they moved out the Lakers), the important piece of the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony has suddenly become an ultimate prize for other suitors. As the rumors continue to fly out about where ‘Melo could be going…whether it’s Los Angeles, Chicago or even staying in NYC…the question is: Is he worth it? It will depend on what squad decides to put him on their roster. If it’s the Lakers…you’re asking for trouble. As much as Laker fans want him there, he’s not the answer to their equation. Maybe a Kevin Love added to the mix could make it a championship contender but I just don’t see it. Yes, the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics pulled off doing Big 3’s to help them win championships, but those teams were very different compared to what other NBA squads are trying to combine and make their own.  If he goes to the Clippers, it’s going to have to be in exchange for star Blake Griffin. Griffin could work well in NYC, he does like to run and the Knicks are a running team. The longshot is Chicago…yeah they don’t have Derrick Rose but they could use a scorer, the bad part is they won’t have a good defender unless head coach Tom Thibodeau can help him a great deal. Who wants an effective scorer but poor defender for their playoff-bound/championship contending team? I would choose Chicago. That’s not because I’m a Bulls fan either.

(I’m going to try to be nice with this one) The beginning of the month saw a 30-year tenure for David Stern come to an end. Stern took the NBA to an international phenomenon, taking the game all over the world, and even returning with some of the Non-American’s best players. Stern made the NBA very marketable…turning people like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James into household names. He even was the brainchild with the WNBA and did his best to bring substance to his league. Adam Silver takes over the commissioner’s position and hopefully will bring a lot more positivity to the league.

A-Train

The Heat Dominates The Thunder

I will not elaborate so much on Miami Heat win in game 4, although Miami Heat is one game away of claiming the NBA Championship!  Oklahoma Thunder played a magnificent 1st qtr of game 4, defense was there, and the offense was there from everybody. OKC came out strong and played as hard as they could. This was their game to win, they needed this to be a 2-2 series, but now they are down 3 games to 1. I watched this game with my heartbeat racing as if it was me on that court last night.  I felt the pace of the game and I felt every bump from each foul, I felt the frustration and the urgency to win. Unfortunately, despite Russell Westbrook’s 43 points, Harden’s 10 rebounds and Durant’s 28 points, it wasn’t in the cards for them to win.  Lebron James and his “whole” team came through last night! Chalmers may have played the best game of his career with 25 points.  Last night proved that no matter how good OKC is, Durant and Westbrook cannot and will not win the championship alone. D. Fisher needs to produce a few hot 3’s he is famous for and K. Perkins will need to sit his attitude on the bench and dominate the paint, it is evident that OKC needs him. OKC may squeeze out one more win, but this series is in favor of the Miami Heat, but I will be cheering OKC, all the way.

Gyb…THE ROOKIE!

Congratulations To The 2012 NBA Champs…Oklahoma City Thunder!

YEP! It got your attention and trust me I know it’s a bit too soon to say that. I got happy and started writing again. But anyway, this team is the new hottest team in the NBA. I mean “C’mon son!” This team despite all the crap they have dealt from fans and the media. Damn, that makes me a part of all of that. I mean look at the past series; they walked over the defending champs in Dallas, destroyed the Lakers in 5 and ran 4 straight on San Antonio after being dropping the first 2 on the road. If you remember the 2nd game, that loss was very close which meant a turnaround was clearly coming. It’s almost clear that this team…is a team. Timely shooting from (the should have been MVP in) Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook with his significant drives (although mixed with bad shot selection), James Harden and Derek Fisher with their deadly 3-point shots and timely defense from Serge Ibaka, guard Thabo Sefolosha, and Kendrick Perkins.

SIDEBAR: Man (sighs) I wish Thabo was still in Chicago but former coach Vinny Del Negro downplayed him (in my opinion).

Going back N THE ZONE…This Thunder team could be on the brink of a nice playoff run if this team stays together (which will be so tough). This is a strong team. If they have to play the Celtics, I think the Thunder could take them down. The same can be said if they played the Miami Heat, and the TV ratings for this matchup would be stronger and greater than the Celtics. I mean after watching Games 3, 4, and 5, you would think that the Thunder would not let up and have San Antonio force a Game 7. Well, It looked like that wasn’t going to happen in the 1st half, but my father told me that San Antonio was done because all their energy was gone. He was so correct. As I watched that 3rd quarter, the game shifted in the opening minutes. OKC buried shot, after shot, after shot till they were down by only 1. It didn’t stop there. They went harder and harder until there was enough time to celebrate a Western Conference title. I can’t say it enough. This is not because I don’t like the Heaet. This is because the Heat don’t have a team compared to this one. I don’t feel the need to go into detail about stats for this team. This is a team with such championship significance on the roster like Fisher and Perkins. And I think Durant and Westbrook look ready to celebrate a championship in Oklahoma City.

And I don’t think they anyone can stand in their way.

The A-Train