Thunder Analyst: No Rift Between George, Westbrook

There was no behind-the-scenes drama in OKC, Mark Rodgers said, but the Thunder rebuild is coming

Taz and the Moose
July 10, 2019 - 9:27 am
Paul George Russell Westbrook Thunder

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Since Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City, the Thunder have not won a playoff series. They just dealt their second-best player, Paul George, and they will most likely deal their best player, Russell Westbrook.

The rebuild is coming.

“I don’t think I’ve sensed the fans being as frustrated in quite a long time as they were at the end of the season,” Oklahoma City WWLS sports host Mark Rodgers said on Taz & The Moose. “I think when they acquired Paul George, they thought they were going to compete for the Western Conference championship or possibly be there with Golden State, and it just hasn’t worked. They’ve been bounced in the first round each of the last couple of seasons.”

When news broke that George had been traded to the Clippers, the city was shocked. Fans have since braced for the inevitable.

“Since then, I think people have kind of come to grips with the fact that this is the NBA,” Rodgers said. “If you’re a small market, you have to rebuild and sometimes the only way you can rebuild is to accumulate picks and try to go through the draft. I think people had higher expectations for this team, but it just hasn’t developed.”

Rodgers said that Westbrook “absolutely, yes, no question” will be traded. The only questions are where and for what.

“He is a polarizing player,” Rodgers said. “He is a topic of sports radio in Oklahoma City every day in the summer. He’s not a ball-movement guy; he’s a ball-dominant guy. He takes questionable shots. He plays hard every night. Exciting player, great player, maybe losing a step at this age. I think the perception (in) Oklahoma City and (the) perception around the rest of the league is about the same.”

While Westbrook can be polarizing, Rodgers said that he is a “a great teammate.”

“He comes across as a little surly to the media, but that’s not the way he is to his teammates,” Rodgers said. “If you run into him in Oklahoma City and he’s not in that competitive mode, he’s a super guy. He’s great with philanthropy. So I don’t think he’s a bad teammate. I would believe what Paul George said about him as a teammate. Sometimes on the floor, though, he’s a little bit difficult to deal with – as some other superstars in the NBA are. It’s not like he’s the only guy that’s kind of selfish in a certain way for himself.”

Rodgers added that there was no rift between George and Westbrook.

“No, and I really think that it happened so fast,” he said. “No one knew that there was any chance Paul George would go to the Clippers. We did dig up a soundbite from media day from a year ago where he had talked about Kawhi Leonard and (that) he (had) become better friends with Kawhi. One of the reasons he didn’t go home, the timing wasn’t right for him, so it was kind of a cryptic message at that time. But really no one had any idea that Paul George would be anywhere but Oklahoma City next season.”

Click below to listen to Rodgers’ interview in its entirety.