The playoffs are still barely into its second week, but that won't stop Grantland writer and ESPN basketball analyst Bill Simmons from fueling up the trade rumor mill. A die-hard Boston Celtics fans, Simmons came up with a trade proposal that would surely trigger debates among NBA fans.
Simmons proposed a trade that would involve two of the finest point guard in the league: Oklahoma City Thunder speedster Russell Westbrook and Boston Celtics floor general Bill Simmons.
In his postseason preview on his pet project Grantland, Simmons teased about a potential deal that would have the Thunder sending Westbrook and several players or assets to Bean Town in exchange for Rondo, Jeff Green and probably several draft picks.
Simmons believed this kind of blockbuster trade should go down if the Thunder would eventually fail to reach the finals this season. Already having perhaps the best basketball player in the world in Kevin Durant, the Thunder possessing two exceptionally talented players with superstar ego might already be a crowd, according to several analysts.
Westbrook, who averaged at least 21 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds per game despite missing a bunch of games due to injuries this season, remains a tenacious player on the floor. Despite undergoing a surgery to repair his torn MCL, the perennial All-Star guard never missed a beat when he returned on the floor, burning the oppositions with his quickness and sheer athleticism.
But his tenure along the sideline wasn't bad at all for the Thunder and perhaps for Durant. During Westbrook's absence, Durant took his game to another level and put up incredible performances that catapulted him as the runaway winner for the MVP award. Westbrook's injury also helped the Thunder coaching staff to find some gems deep in their bench. Reggie Jackson was spectacular as a starting point guard replacement, while Jeremy Lamb was able to show flashes of his potential.
In short, the Thunder didn't need Westbrook at that point. Well, they surely need him now in the postseason, especially against the pesky, upset-minded Memphis Grizzlies. But come to think of it. Would it be better for the Thunder to have a pass-first point guard instead of a player who jacks up more than 20 shots per game?
Simmons Has Point
While Westbrook is an explosive scorer and above-average ball distributor, he appears to be not the right man to be the sidekick of Durant. In fact, many believe he hates to be a second-tier star behind KD in the back of his mind. As talented as Westbrook is, he wants more recognition as 'the man' for his squad. Apparently, he needs to build that status, elsewhere.
A change of venue should be appropriate for the attention-hungry Westbrook. The rebuilding Celtics would be willing to give all their attention to him. But Danny Ainge and company know that landing an elite player like Westbrook comes with a price. They need to unload Rajon Rondo, who could opt out from the final year of his contract in 2015.
Rondo, who is also coming off a major surgery to repair his torn ACL, proved that he's still a top-notch passer. He averaged 11.7 points, 9.8 assists and 5.5 rebounds in 30 games he played. Then again, his talent will always be wasted if he doesn't have the talent around him. It's all about winning for Rondo, and success can no longer be attained with the Celtics, at least for the nest 3 to 5 years.
On the other hand, the Thunder is starving for postseason success. But unfortunately, success can only be achieved if they make the right changes now. As laughable as Jalen Rose may think about the Westbrook for Rondo trade, Simmons simply provided a win-win trade for both teams.
The Thunder will finally have a point guard that would not compete with Durant but instead make him look better. The Celtics will finally have a star who can lead the storied franchise back to title hunt as 'the man' for the young team.