Billy King: Thunder Got To Trade Westbrook

With a Big Three of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, the Golden State Warriors won a title, played for another and set an NBA record with 73 regular-season wins.

But with a Core Four that includes Kevin Durant, there’s no telling what they’ll do – just as long as the talent optimizes its potential.

“As good as Golden State is going to be (on paper) – and they are going to be fun to watch – you still got to play the game,” former Nets GM Billy King said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It’s easy to sit here and give them the next four or five championships, but you never know when the basketball gods or the sports gods step in and (give you injuries or bad luck or adversity). That’s what happens in sports.”

The Warriors know all about that. After going 73-9 in the regular season, they went 15-9 in the playoffs, playing part of the first two rounds without Curry, who suffered knee and ankle injuries. Those ailments may not be why the Warriors fell shy in their repeat bid, but they certainly didn’t help the cause.

Then again, if the Warriors had repeated, they might not have landed Durant, who, in an instant, went from one of the most liked players in the league to one of the most criticized.

Twitter has a way of doing that to a superstar.

“I think with social media now, everything that happens is instantaneous. Everybody gets their news and then they react,” King said. “I don’t understand why people are so mad at Kevin Durant for leaving Oklahoma City. That’s his right. That’s why he became a free agent – to be able to (decide where he wanted to live and play). And he chose that.”

Players from previous generations might not have made the same decision, but Durant did. Fans may not like it, but they have to accept it.

“I think the thing that’s different in this generation is players tend to get to know each other as friends off the court,” King said. “Before, I think there was a lot more competitive nature in guys. There’s no way a Celtic would go play for a Laker. But I think nowadays the players are much more friendly off the court in the NBA, and relationships develop off the court. As GMs or owners of teams, you may not know (about) those relationships or how close they are until something like this happens.”

The Thunder must now decide what to do with Russell Westbrook. General manager Sam Presti acquired Victor Oladipo to give Durant and Westbrook a talented and energetic two-play player who could put them over the top next season. A Big Three of Durant, Westbrook and Oladipo seemed promising.

But a Big Two of Westbrook and Oladipo? Not so much.

“I think if you know (Westbrook is) not going to come back, you got to move him,” King said. “Only Sam can gauge that. I think you start the season and let it play out. You’ve got until February if you do want to trade him, but I think you don’t want to sit there and lose both those guys and get nothing back for them. So I think you’ve got to explore it, but you’ve got to explore it quietly. The hard thing is, I don’t know how much value you can get. I think you have to explore it. You probably just want to get as many young players and picks (as possible) and rebuild through that way.”

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