If the dunks didn’t seem to punish the rim with the same ferocity, the post-jam snarls and stank-faces seemed less frequent, or the high-stepping and double-barrel-boom celebrations appeared subdued the first six weeks of the season, Russell Westbrook doesn’t want anyone to get it twisted.
And, the Thunder’s franchise cornerstone spent the early parts of this union getting Paul George and Carmelo Anthony acclimated to playing with a stick of dynamite in sneakers.
And the lit, explosive one who has re-entered the MVP conversation over the past few months — the one who can put the team on his back and stuff stats while also letting George have some go-to-guy glory — is the one the Thunder will need to reach their desired return to relevance.
So when general manager Sam Presti made the offseason moves for George and Anthony to reassure Westbrook that his faith in the organization was justified, the fiery franchise cornerstone felt personally responsible to make it work.
Not only did Westbrook have to contend with criticism for the Thunder’s slow start, but he was also blamed for holding back former teammates like Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis and Enes Kanter, who have all blossomed since leaving him behind.
His pending free agency looms over the franchise, but George has pushed back on speculation about him leaving for Los Angeles next summer by espousing the benefits of playing with Westbrook.
Roberson’s value on the defensive end outweighs his deficiencies as a shooter and his absence increases the likelihood that Presti continues his annual tradition of finding perimeter help at Thursday’s trade deadline.
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