For the first time since the Oklahoma City Thunder played their first game in 2008, Russell Westbrook won’t be on the team’s roster. Westbrook’s trade to the Houston Rockets this past summer marked the end of an era for OKC basketball, but as Steven Adams is here to remind you, it didn’t mark the end of the Thunder as we know them.
At Adams’ media day press conference last week, he said the Thunder have no choice but to move on from Westbrook, whether they like it or not according to Royce Young of ESPN.
“Someone was there, and now they’re not,” Adams said of Westbrook’s departure. “As morbid as this may sound, [it is] similar to someone passing away. But not like that. But you get the gist.
“You carry on, because life goes on, but little things come up, like a parking spot.”
Adams has spent the entirety of his six-year career sharing the court with Westbrook, and in two of those seasons, Westbrook led the Thunder in rebounds per game. Next season, Adams expects the Thunder to play a more “traditional” style of play, something the New Zealand-born big man is still getting used to.
“It’s like my guy is over here, and I’m boxing him out so far, and the ball just hits the ground,” Adams said. “Which, for a coach, is not a bad thing.
“But for practicality, obviously, someone needs to go get the f—ing ball.”
With Westbrook now in Houston, Adams — who was drafted by Oklahoma City in 2013 — is tied for the longest tenured player on the Thunder with Andre Roberson. While Adams’ experience — particularly in relation to head coach Billy Donovan — could be a benefit to the Thunder as they prepare for life after Westbrook, it could also be the reason he’s traded sooner rather than later, as the team’s general manager Sam Presti has made it clear a rebuild is imminent.
Whatever the case ends up being, Adams said he’s grateful to be a small part of OKC basketball’s legacy:
“You’re just here to help,” Adams said. “And if you can place your brick, whatever you want to call it … then that’s a privilege, you know. That’s just cool.
“So even if they did trade me, it’s obviously just a huge honor. And I know with every player that’s here, it’s been a huge honor to contribute to the history that Oklahoma is making.”
Sean Deveney of Heavy reported last week that the Thunder were seeking a draft pick, a young player and salary relief in exchange for Adams in a potential deal. While it’s unlikely the Thunder will get exactly what they’re rumored to want for Adams, they’ll get close to it for the 26-year-old center, which could lead to his departure from the team.
Until that happens, Adams is set to start his seventh preseason for the Thunder on Oct. 8 against the Dallas Mavericks.