Evaluating where Russell Westbrook would fit best following rumoured trade

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Kevin Durant's move to the Golden State Warriors has sent shockwaves around the NBA, but the reverberating effects of the blockbuster alliance may come right back to its origins in Oklahoma City.

KD was a nine-year stalwart of the Thunder franchise and precious few believed that the small forward was ready to move on.

OKC had shipped out Serge Ibaka as he entered the final year of his deal and had brought in Victor Oladipo, amongst others, to complement Durant and Westbrook.

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It seemed all but certain the 2014 MVP would sign a two-year deal to stay put, with a player option in the second. While that was the deal that the 27-year-old signed, it wasn't with the Thunder. He's taken his talents to the Bay.

So, what does that mean for the Thunder? During the 2014-15 campaign when Durant missed nearly 50 games, they failed to make the postseason.

No matter how much Russell Westbrook has grown as a leader and triple-double machine in that time, the evidence already suggests he cannot single-handedly drive them into the playoffs. Who can? KD would probably struggle without Westbrook in Oklahoma too.

According to Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, Westbrook may be traded away from the Chesapeake Energy Arena sooner rather than later as the chances of him re-signing with the Thunder next summer appear to be slim to none.

Two franchises have emerged as front-runners in the supposed race to secure Westbrook and they are the two historically rich organisations the NBA has to offer: The Boston Celtics and the L.A. Lakers.

They are the top two most successful franchises of all-time that, to varying degrees, are not sitting top of the pile at present. Why would either side give up anything when they believe they can snag Westbrook next summer?

The Thunder don't have much of a bargaining chip at all, but the reigning back-to-back MVP is that much of a talent that he might be worth the cost right here, right now.

So, which destination would be the best fit for the 27-year-old? Let's break it down.

Boston Celtics

Undoubtedly the better team out of the two at present and better positioned. The Celtics finished fifth in the Eastern Conference last year and as well as having one of the most exciting, young teams in the league, they have just added a plethora of draft picks to their roster - three of which were in the first round.

The impressive and now All-Star Isaiah Thomas currently mans the one spot for Boston, and with All-Defensive First Teamer Avery Bradley completing the backcourt, things would get crowded at the TD Garden.

If anything, Boston wanted to add a center or a forward this summer to help their roster become a serious contender. They came up short with Kevin Durant, but did manage to secure Al Horford from the Atlanta Hawks.

Westbrook works best with some aggressive tall trees around him and given that he and Thomas share similar explosive traits, there's no reason to suggest that he couldn't thrive out east.

But does it make real sense for Boston? Thomas and Bradley are 27 and 25 respectively, and while Westbrook is arguably better than both men, that's a well-balanced backcourt with plenty of legs in them. The Celtics would almost certainly have to split them up if they wanted to bring Westbrook aboard and then how much progress have they really made?

Still, Boston have the means to tempt Oklahoma as they have first round selections in 2017, '18 and two in '19 that would certainly kick-start any rebuild.

L.A. Lakers

The Lakers are the organisation in obvious need or a franchise star, whatever position he comes in.

They slumped to a franchise-worst record of 17-65 last year as Kobe Bryant played out his retirement season. While they do have a plethora of young talent like D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Ivica Zubac, Larry Nance Jr, Julius Randle and their newest addition, second overall draft pick Brandon Ingram, they are totally bereft of a leader and a face of the team.

Westbrook is a California-native born and raised in Long Beach, only 30 minutes away from the Staples Center. He returns home every offseason and would probably welcome the chance to become the leader of such a historic franchise in his prime.

If it came down to what the five-time All-Star wants, he would likely favour leading an era of change in L.A. However, how attractive would the Lakers look to Westbrook if they had to dismantle their young core to get him?

The Purple and Gold don't have much in the way of future draft picks to tempt the Thunder, so it is likely that one of Russell or Clarkson would have to be sacrificed as part of any deal, and probably one of Randle or Nance Jr, too.

Luke Walton has also just come to the helm in L.A. and is likely to bring with him a similar small ball style that he helped coach with Golden State. Would that suit Westbrook? The point guard is more accustom to driving to the basket than pulling up from three-point range and the 29.3 percent of efforts he managed to sink last season are a testament to that.

It's safe to assume, though, the Lakers are in such dire straights that their front office would put logic aside when pursuing a player of Westbrook's class.

Kobe Bryant
L.A. Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Boston Celtics
Atlantic Division
Eastern Conference
Russell Westbrook
Oklahoma City Thunder
Northwest Division
Isaiah Thomas

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