You know, something really big happened when I visited Oklahoma City this past weekend. My favorite player for the last decade, Carmelo Anthony, was traded to the OKC Thunder. It was the talk of the town all day Saturday as I ventured to a few of the local bars in the downtown area. People were excited and very optimistic about the future and where exactly the Thunder are headed. But the fans of the Thunder were also sad to a certain degree, they were sad that Enes Kanter was apart of the trade and on his way out of town.
"This was his home and we embraced him as one of our own. We can only hope the best for him and I hope he returns," one fan stated upon hearing the news.
Kanter himself had at least one statement to make "Please beat the Warriors." His sentiment alone should let you know how much he enjoyed his time in OKC and his desire to beat Golden State.
As for the Thunder, what does this really do for them? Does it make them better? How do they rank in the West? What happens after this season? There are many questions to be asked of Oklahoma City and general manager Sam Presti.
Are the Thunder better?
At this point I would say not necessarily. The roster looks good on paper but it only looks good for about four, maybe five players. The Thunder obviously have a big three as they present a triple threat of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. That's a great start. But they need a lot more.
If you remember correctly, the Miami Heat did this a few years back with the likes of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. That entire Heat roster was retooled and designed to compliment each big name they brought in. The Heat laid the blueprint for what the Thunder are in the process of doing. But much work still needs to be done.
How do they rank in the West?
A lot of opinions seem to suggest that they moved up to the third best team in the West and that is something I almost agree with. However, with the roster as is, I still feel that the San Antonio Spurs are slightly better than OKC. The reason being chemistry.
Chemistry is essential and we won't really know enough about the Thunder until Christmas time. By then we should start to see how they are forming together and how that roster is panning out.
What happens after this season?
This feels like a one year lease on talent for Oklahoma City. Both Paul George and reigning MVP Westbrook are looking at a 2018 free agency window. If they don't gel and the season doesn't go as planned, OKC could be looking at two departures that could mar the franchise.
Obviously, the hope would be to resign both superstars to multi-year deals. But the future has absolutely no certainty especially with the current wave of NBA product and how contracts are handled.
As for Melo, he still has two years left on his contract. How crazy would it be if he is the only player remaining this time next season?
What current Free Agents should OKC seek?
Well no one that is left in the FA pool really jumps at you and grabs your attention. For OKC, They do need a few tough veteran type of players that can come in and do work on the second unit.
The only two names that stood that could actually help and improve the roster a bit are Jared Sullinger whom has seemingly signed with a team outside of the NBA and then Tiago Splitter who may be looking to transition into a coaching role.
Another player that could get a shout, especially for a dual guard role with Raymond Felton, is the outstanding scorer Brandon Jennings (Jennings could be headed overseas as well). He could certainly improve the bench, one that needs scoring and much more. Monta Ellis could be a similar player with the same role as Jennings , score buckets for the second team.
Two players I would be looking at to add some veteran savy-ness to the roster would be the likes of Matt Barnes, and always outstanding defender and Boris Diaw, a do-it-all big man who can fit right into any bunch of players.
If the other two guards do not work out then the other option I see that adds any real value to the Thunder would be Randy Foye. Foye is becoming a journeyman in the NBA and has already made one stop in OKC for the 2015-16 season. He would fit right back into the mix if the opportunity is available and all signs point to the fact that it will be.
The Thunder have multiple members in the starting five that can light up any team on any give night. A few things to watch for early on in the season will start with chemistry, how does Westbrook adapt to having shooters around him, what is Paul George's role and how does Carmelo Anthony adjust to being a four (power forward) as opposed to a three (small forward)?
Each of these components of the Thunder will be amusing to watch through the first fifteen games of the regular season and from that point forward we (the fans) should start having a good indication of where the season may head for these three premier athletes and the Thunder as an organization.