2019 was a tumultuous year for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The offseason saw the organization trade away their two biggest stars in Paul George and Russell Westbrook, and as a result, expectations headed into the 2019-20 season were low.
But Oklahoma City has been a pleasant surprise so far this season.
The addition of veterans Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari, combined with up-and-coming sensation Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have found a way to make this team competitive. OKC is sitting in seventh in the Western Conference standings, winners of seven of their last eight.
Steven Adams has spent his entire career in Oklahoma City. He saw Kevin Durant depart the franchise in 2016, and is now playing in the post-Russ era.
Just prior to the new year, Steven Adams joined host Zach Lowe on the Lowe Post podcast to discuss, among other things, the trade that sent Westbrook to the Houston Rockets.
The conversation about Russell Westbrook starts just before the 40-minute mark.
According to Adams, Westbrook let his former teammate know ahead of time that a move was being made.
“He called me before it was even going down I think. Just gave me the heads up and all that sort of stuff. Cause you’ve got the business side of things, right? Everyone always says the same thing, ‘Oh, it’s a business.’ But I don’t know how many players actually buy into that concept. But your friendship goes beyond the business side of things. In terms of handling it you’re just like, ‘Oh, well. That’s surprising. It’s an interesting move. I hope it all works out well.’”
Oklahoma City went to Houston on October 28, a four-point win by the Rockets. Westbrook posted a double-double against his former team, and Adams promised that it wasn’t for a lack of defensive effort by the Thunder.
“Not at all. Can’t do that. That’s disrespectful, for one. From all the years of his teachings to just go easy on him just cause he was a teammate, yeah, that’s not good. I will say, I will foul him before he hits the launchpad. One-hundred percent. I don’t want to risk it. Cause I know in his mind he’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna crack one on Steven.’ I know that’s what he’s thinking, 100 percent. He always does those sorts of things.”
OKC and the Rockets will square off again later this month in Houston on January 20.