Carlson: "Shock And Disbelief" For Thunder Fans

The Thunder are rebuilding, while the Rockets are contending with a pair of former Oklahoma City stars

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
July 16, 2019 - 9:00 am
Russell Westbrook James Harden NBA

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Days after watching their beloved franchise trade another star player, many Oklahoma City Thunder fans remain in shock.

“I think it’s a little bit of disbelief,” Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “When the Paul George trade happened, that was an overnight bolt of lightning. That was really a surprise. Once that happened, there were (rumors) the Westbrook situation might ultimately end with a trade.”

It did. Westbrook was traded to the Rockets for Chris Paul, two first-round picks and a pair of pick swaps.

“I think there were days and hours for Thunder fans to be coming to the realization that that could happen,” Carlson said, “and yet to actually have it happen – I think for some people to have it be Houston was still a lot to process. Houston obviously is the home of James Harden – a past Thunder star in his own right – and a team that the Thunder has recently had playoff history with and really built a pretty healthy rivalry with the Rockets.”

Harden and Westbrook were teammates in 2012, when the Thunder reached the NBA Finals before losing to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in five games.

“To think about Harden and Westbrook being there, anytime you’re going to see a guy that spent 11 years in a place in another uniform, it’s going to be pretty jarring,” Carlson said. “But I think that was one of those additional blows to Thunder fans. I think there’s still some shock and some disbelief.”  

Still, Westbrook, 30, will be revered by Thunder fans for years to come.

“He obviously stayed after Durant left,” Carlson said. “He was part of the reason  they were able to make Paul George happen for a couple years, to get him to re-sign when most people thought that was completely off the table. So if you’re sitting in Westbrook’s position, how quickly can they get back to something that looks like it might build towards that? He could be in his mid-30s by that point. 

“I think there was an appreciation for the idea that if he wants to potentially win a championship and be a real part of a championship team – and not just a (role) player or somebody that is down the roster – now is the time he needs to be on a team (where) it’s at least a possibility.”

Click below to listen to Carlson’s interview in its entirety.