By A. Suave Francisco
The Thunder got a win over a depleted Mavericks team Thursday night and Russell Westbrook had another night where he exploded for 45 points. However, although the Thunder won the battle, Enes Kanter lost the war after a regretful decision he made, punching a chair on the bench during a timeout. It resulted in a broken forearm that he has to get surgically repaired, which puts him out for a significant period of time.
With the Thunder faithful pleading for a blockbuster trade to help Russell Westbrook lead this team back into the realm of championship contention, this presents an enormous roadblock for any of those plans.
With this roster being uncertain and few players gaining enough NBA credibility to be viewed as a substantial trade piece, the centerpiece of any proposed trade the Thunder may have made would've been Enes Kanter, with a few pieces around him. Now, the only players the Thunder could trade without further hurting this roster would be Cameron Payne, Kyle Singler, and maybe Anthony Morrow. Even then, though, who will willingly pick up Singler's expensive contract considering his lack of production? Payne would be a good trade piece if necessary, but still, he's not a centerpiece for any blockbuster deal.
On the season, Kanter averages 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in only 15-to-20 minutes. He leads the team in PER with 108.0 points per 100 possessions which leads the team and that includes Westbrook. This significant impact he makes off the bench rivals any sixth man in the league and would be very attractive to practically any NBA team, despite his king-sized contract.
The Thunder are (28-19) on the season and are No. 6 in the Western Conference. With this injury, that record may look less appealing, but they shouldn't have a problem getting into the playoffs. Also, any plans of adding a prominent piece to this team may have to be put on hold until the offseason, something I personally think Sam Presti should do.