The clock is ticking. Damian Lillard has an isolation on Paul George with just a few seconds left. The Blazers home crowd is roaring. Damian Lillard jabs in, Steps back shoot over Paul George, And sends the Oklahoma City Thunder home just like that. One of the most iconic moments in the 2019 playoffs with that shot. It was Dame time, and Paul George couldn’t have ever been enough to stop it. And with yet another first round exit, change was bound to happen.
Fast forward to the off-season. Russell Westbrook and Paul George, dynamic duo but for how long? Are those two stars enough together with a few extra pieces, the key to the table team for the small market OKC? It had seemed not, as they Have not been able to make it work in the first two seasons together. Paul George deadlocked in an extension the year before, but did that keep him untouchable to the Oklahoma City front office? It seems not. After holding out for many days, Kawhi Leonard was Set to decide on his next team at any point. The Raptors Lakers, Clippers were amongst the many teams who were hopeful to sign Kawhi Leonard, the reigning finals MVP. It was said that what Kawhi wanted, was to play with a star. Was that LeBron and AD On the Lakers? What another team be able to splurge for another star to team up with Kawhi? With Kyrie and KD on the net already, Kawaii need to find a team with the assets to trade for a star, or a team with the Space to sign one. And with the Thunder disappointed yet again, and the clippers overhaul of draft picks And Young talent, the fit seemed flawless. Because that’s when they decided to complete phase 1 of the reset in Oklahoma City. Paul George was traded to the clippers for Shai Gilgeus Alexander, Danilo Galanari and A package first-round picks. and so Kawhi Leonard decided to join forces with Paul George in Los Angeles, leaving Russell Westbrook to fend for himself.
With the money moves that the front office had made over the past few seasons, Russell Westbrook would have been considerably unhappy. And after some discussion with the front office, Russell Westbrook was confirmed to be on the trade block. The two time MVP how to spend his entire career in Oklahoma City and he had spent his entire career falling short. It was time for a change. And not much later, Russell Westbrook was traded to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul and a few more first round picks. It was the end of a dynasty in Oklahoma City. The infamous big three of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James harden was now gone. They all had left. Oklahoma City had began the rebuild; or so we thought.
The Thunder were not considered a playoff team. No one had expected this team to do what they did. Despite being led by the veteran, and overpaid Chris Paul, they actually made some impact and won some games early on in the season. While it was considered a fluke, Paul and his team of mediocre role players have been able to lead the Thunder into the 6 seed come playoff time, and have been considered a sleeper team to upset a higher seed in the first round. And just like that, Presti took an underachieving team with too many stars and turned them into a team with all the right pieces and enough picks to be known in the future.