It’s late spring - and guess what? No playoff basketball in OKC. Back-to-back first-round exits mark the lowest stretch in Thunder’s history since the franchise’s early days in Oklahoma City. The Thunder used to be synonymous for deep playoff runs, but now they are heading into a summer full of uncertainty with stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony possibly gone after just one season.

The Grim Outlook

Sam Presti, a shrewd front-office figure highly regarded by his peers, is all of a sudden facing an arduous task of steering the Thunder ship in the right direction.

The executive can try hard enough, but it’s becoming obvious that none of his efforts would solve the underlying problem: They aren’t good enough with Russell Westbrook at the helm.

The Western Conference has always been brutal, and for the current Thunder team, playing on this side of the NBA is a curse. A 50-win season no longer assures at least a conference finals appearance because in the West any playoff-caliber team is deadly on any given day.

Presti must decide how long he will endure mediocrity. The Thunder aren’t going to be better next season, especially if George says sayonara this summer. Of course, there’s a very good chance Anthony would exercise his players option for the next season.

At this stage of his career, Melo understands that he can no longer demand a contract larger than $27 million. Once he opts out, all that is waiting for him is basically peanuts.

Still, nothing set in stone when it comes to a player looking for a title entering his 16th season. After all, Anthony did approve the trade that sent him to the Thunder for the purpose of winning, and without George, winning is very unlikely in OKC.

Dealing Westbrook

At this point, the best case scenario for OKC is George and Melo both exercising their player options, just to give it a try one more time. On the other hand, the worst case is rock bottom. Without the two stars, the Thunder reverts back to the 2016-17 squad with Westbrook carrying his team through the grueling 82-game regular-season schedule and afterward losing steam in the playoffs.

It’s going to be a cycle of so-so seasons if Presti sticks with his current roster. That’s why it’s time to blow things up. Parting ways with the last remnant of the Thunder’s golden generation (remember the Durant-Ibaka-Harden-Westbrook quartet?) might be the hardest thing to do for the GM, but it may be the best move to kick-start a new phase for the franchise.

Zach Lowe of ESPN would agree on this.

“There's an increasing number of people around the league who think the Thunder should look at trading [Russell] Westbrook. To be clear, not a report. Not Thunder sources think they should do this. Just in spitballing ideas with teams around the league, there's a number of people who have heard, just like, 'It's time for something to change here.”

Why Miami and New York?

Thankfully for the Thunder, there's a couple of big market team desperately needing some blockbuster drawing power a Russell Westbrook can provide.

The Heat is vanilla post-Big 3 era. Collectively, they are a solid, grit-and-grind squad that is good for a playoff appearance. Nothing is really special about the Heat even with a 36-year-old Dwyane Wade. What the Heat has been missing these past four years is a bona fide superstar, a polarizing persona who can fill those empty seats and bring back the buzz to South Beach. Westbrook fits the bill.

Sure, New York has Kristaps Porzingis, a 7-foot-4 prodigy who possesses the skills-set of a guard. By the way, the Latvian big man just became an All-Star too, so does it mean the Knicks don’t need Westbrook? Wrong! The 2017 NBA MVP is entertainment in the flesh. He is an enigma who can wow his fan-base on and off the court.

While Porzingis has been spending the whole spring aimlessly strolling the streets of Madrid, Westbrook is gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated/Fashion magazines and appearing in high profile talk shows.

The point is, his larger-than-life personality would shine even more under the glitz and glamour of these cities. The Heat and Knicks would also benefit from the buzz Westbrook would create. More importantly, having a superstar player like Westbrook around would always put his team in position to add another star. It’s the LeBron effect. Stars want to play with stars. Winners want to play with winners.

In the end, it all boils down to Presti’s decision whether it’s time to push the reset button in OKC.

Make no mistake, he will ask for a King’s ransom package in exchange for Westbrook. The Heat could throw in a combination of their young players (Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Justice Winslow), plus first-round picks (if there’s still left).

As for the Knicks, they could dangle Frank Ntilikina, this year’s first-round pick, Courtney Lee and fillers for Westbrook. It’s probably not enough but if Steve Mills throws another protected future first-round pick to the pot, Presti would probably take the bite.

As a fan of both Heat and Knicks, would you go all-in for Westbrook? Let me know in the comments below and please follow me on Twitter. You can find the information on my personal homepage at Onchie Aguila@BlastingNews.