To be clear, the Thunder don’t have any kind of plan here. Seven seasons ago, the Eastern Conference was dominated not only by LeBron’s Heat and Paul George and Roy Hibbert’s Indiana Pacers, but also Carmelo Anthony’s New York Knicks. Dwight Howard led the league in rebounding as a Los Angeles Laker. Rajon Rondo was leading the Celtics as the top assists man in the league. The Golden State Warriors dynasty was just starting to hatch. If Thunder GM Sam Presti—who likely won’t be with the team in 2026 either—thinks he knows what the NBA or his franchise will look like in seven years, he’s wrong. What he’s doing is spending real money, in the form of his actual players, for lottery tickets he probably won’t even be able to cash in himself. At best, he may just be selling the long-term hope of a return to the playoffs someday. Seven years stretches the basketball definition of “long-term” farther than should ever be allowed.

“But Lauren,” you might be thinking, “the Rockets’ picks for the next three years are probably going to be worthless. There’s no way the Thunder would have given up Westbrook for those.” Well good! Then they shouldn’t have! Maybe they should have sought out a trade that would give them actual, tangible talent in exchange for their centerpiece point guard. Or maybe they should have become buyers themselves, searching for a way to make Westbrook happy again after George’s departure. Nobody in Oklahoma City wins with this depleted roster they’re left with—not the team, not the fans—and seven years is way too long to wait for the fun to return.

Limiting the number of draft picks a team can receive in a trade not only disincentivizes franchises from quickly cutting bait with disgruntled players, it also forces them to try to get some actual good players in trades, instead of just future assets that’ll doom them to Tank City for the next several years. Most GMs, at the moment, are making the wisest decisions they can within the NBA’s rules. But if the “smart” result is one that still hurts fans, maybe it’s time to tweak those rules.