Eighteen minutes. That's how close the Oklahoma City Thunder were to topping the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, to advancing to meet LeBron James (again) and the Cleveland Cavaliers in a fight for the championship.
Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and the gang led the Dubs to a one-point advantage midway through the third quarter of Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals while holding a 3-1 series lead. They lost that game. Same goes for Games 6 and 7.
And now OKC is on the verge of imploding completely.
Durant has defected, and Westbrook, who will be a free agent in the summer of 2017, is reportedly on his way out, too, according to a league executive.
“He’s gone after this year,” the anonymous exec told RealGM. “A hundred percent. I think that’s the case no matter what (Durant had decided). I guess people can always change their mind, but I think this season was going to be it for him there no matter what.”
The Thunder played most of the 2014-15 season without Durant, who was limited to 27 games after breaking his foot. With Westbrook at the helm, that squad went 45-37 in the regular season and failed to reach the playoffs.
With his departure becoming more and more likely, the Thunder will at least be fielding trade offers for the 27-year-old guard.
But another Western Conference source warns that playing with Westbrook was a factor in Durant's decision to ditch OKC.
“Look, KD and Russ are friends. They get along great off the court," the source said. "They’re good guys. But Kevin feels like no one can control Russell when he’s on the court — not even Russell. Everyone sees it. It’s no secret. I think that’s been hard on Kevin. Russ is one of the top players in the game, but things have to fit.”