General Manager Sam Presti built the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason to compete for a championship. Presti stole Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to form a big three around reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. The Thunder have gotten off to a 12-14 start and would miss the playoffs if the season ended today.
Time is running out as George is a free agent at the end of this season, so here are three ways to fix the Thunder before it is too late.
Fire Billy Donovan
Here is the simple answer that comes up every time a super team is built. In Miami, everyone wanted Pat Riley to step up as coach before the Heat turned it around. LeBron James also had coaching issues with David Blatt and got him fired during his return to Cleveland. Since teams have won by keeping and firing their coach, it isn’t fair to make Donovan the scapegoat.
However, Kevin Durant did not speak highly of Donovan in the third person this fall when he got caught using a burner account.
Retire Hoodie Melo
If the Thunder are going to keep this roster,they need to look at former super teams including the aforementioned Cavs and Heat. Those teams had something that this Thunder team does not have: a clear pecking order.
Right now, Russell Westbrook shoots about 20 times a game while Melo and PG take 16 shots a game. Paul George is being underutilized on the Thunder as he has turned into a spot up shooter.
For the Thunder to turn this around Westbrook has to become more of a facilitator and Melo has to take on the Kevin Love/Chris Bosh of being the spot up shooter. This will never happen because Melo is one of the most irrationally confident players in the league.
This seems like a doomsday scenario for the Thunder, but it may work out. Of course it would be better to trade Melo, but he lacks trade value. Oklahoma City could trade George to the Cleveland Cavs for the Nets pick, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye and Cedi Osman. This trade is a win-win for both teams and makes the Thunder a more balanced team.
The top pick is great because it could net the Thunder a future star that is controllable while picking up a nice young wing in Cedi Osman. Meanwhile, the Thunder get two role players. Shumpert is a strong defensive wing while Frye can provide the shooting from the forward position that they need since Melo won’t take a backseat.