The Thirsty Beagle: July 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Busy times at hand for state's craft beer scene

It may be the dog days of summer, but you can't take the dog out of Oklahoma's craft beer scene.

(Wait, does that make any sense?)

Either way, there sure is a lot going on in the next little while. Allow me to enlighten you.

-The Yes on 792 campaign is holding a formal launch on Wednesday, with events scheduled in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The Oklahoma City event is set for 9:30 a.m. at the Cox Convention Center and will feature speakers from the Oklahoma Retail Merchants Association, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, the Oklahoma Grape Industry Council and representatives from the state's grocery and convenience store lobbies. The Tulsa event, featuring a similar lineup of speakers, will be at 3:30 p.m. at the Brookside Reasor's store, 3915 S Peoria Ave.

-An event that everyone is super-excited about -- the Plaza Beer Walk -- is set to debut on Wednesday in the Plaza District, featuring Lagunitas beers. Here's the rundown: 5 p.m. at Empire (Lagunitas Pils); 6 p.m. at Saints (Lucky 13); 7 p.m. at The Mule (IPA); and 8 p.m. at Oak & Ore (Aunt Sally). You can collect a ticket at each stop by purchasing the featured beer, then trade in all four tickets at Oak & Ore for a limited-edition Lagunitas glass. Remember to walk responsibly, folks -- if you act a fool and get this event derailed, the beer-loving masses will not be happy.

-Mustang Brewing is celebrating its seventh anniversary, with a craft beer block party at their brewery from 2 to 7 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free and there will be live music, food trucks and games, and beers from Mustang and Elk Valley. Plus, Mustang is promising to unveil "renderings of our new location and a big announcement on future plans." I will effort to get some additional information on that.

-If it's almost August, that means it's almost time for the annual TapWerks IPA Day celebration. This year's event is set for 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, featuring IPAs from all your favorite local beermakers, special IPA-inspired food items and special glassware. I'll try to dig up info on the specific beers that will be available. I'm hopeful TapWerks will bring back the hourly flights they did last year -- I thought that was a great way to make sure you could try all the beers you wanted.

-The Patriarch is celebrating IPA Day on Saturday, Aug. 6, and they have an awesome night lined up. They will feature four one-off Roughtail IPAs and pair those with a screening of "Top Gun" as part of the Beer Cinema series. Whaaaa? They'll start pouring the Roughtail IPA flight at 5 p.m., with the movie starting at 6. I feel the need, the need for hops.

-The Oklahoma Hall of Fame is bringing back one of the cooler beer events on the calendar. Their Oklahoma Born & Brewed tasting event is set for Aug. 19, and will feature Oklahoma beers paired wth a selection of small-plate offerings. Tickets are $65, and can be had at

-The newest venture for Prairie founder Chase Healey is nearing its formal go-date. A launch party for American Solera is set for 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 26 at Prairie brewhouse, 1803 S 49th W. Ave. They are promising several beers on tap and special bottle releases of Foeder Gold (oak-aged sour golden ale); Money Blend (farmhouse ale aged 18 months in oak casks); and Foeder Cerise (sour golden ale aged in oak tanks with cherries -- limit four per person).

-And lastly, the annual Wild Brew tasting festival is set for Saturday, Aug. 27. More info on that right here.

Whew! That's a lot of stuff -- and we're not even mentioning that Senate Bill 424 (probably) goes into effect Aug. 25, and probably every Oklahoma brewer worth his weight in PBW will be planning something cool to celebrate that occasion. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Crisis averted? Positive resolution eyed by brewers, ABLE

If you read my blog post from last night, you know there was a lot of nail-biting today as representatives from the ABLE Commission and the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma met to discuss the application of Senate Bill 424.

Over the weekend, word circulated that ABLE had floated an interpretation on the bill that would prohibit sales of brewers' high-point beer for consumption at the brewery. 

ABLE's rumored interpretation would still allow for sales of locally made high-point beer for off-premise consumption (think bottles, cans and growlers), but it is the former -- sales of their regular beer by the glass -- that the state's craft brewers view as a true game-changer for their businesses.

When SB 424 was passed in May -- it's set to go into effect Aug. 25 -- the public consensus was that it would allow on- and off-premise consumption.

The problem, as I noted yesterday, is that the bill expressly states brewers can sell their beer at the brewery, but does not specifically address where it can or can't be consumed.

That led to today's meeting, where ABLE and the brewers were expected to discuss the situation. I spoke today with several people with knowledge of the situation, and the consensus is that the meeting went well from the brewers' perspective.

All reports indicate that ABLE and the state's brewers are working toward a positive resolution to the issue.

That should serve as a relief to the state's brewers and those looking to open up breweries.

From talking to industry experts and observers, it's clear that a green light for by-the-glass consumption will be a catalyst for a great deal of commercial/retail development -- especially in Oklahoma City's districts and downtown area.

You would hate to see that type of momentum derailed when it appeared such a certainty only a few days ago.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

ABLE Commission interpretation may derail key element of SB 424

That sound you don't hear right now is every craft brewer and every brewer-in-planning holding their breath following news that the ABLE Commission is eyeing a potentially devastating interpretation on Senate Bill 424.

SB 424 was passed at the end of the legislative session in May and is set to go into effect on Aug. 25. It would allow Oklahoma's brewers to sell bottles, cans and growlers of their full-strength beer for off-premise consumption, and also -- this is the key element -- to sell their full-strength beer by the glass for consumption on the brewery premises.

Word came out this weekend that the ABLE Commission has proposed an interpretation on the bill that suggests only sales for off-premise consumption will be allowed.

Several sources told me this weekend that a meeting is scheduled Monday between representatives from the ABLE Commission and the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma. They are expected to discuss ABLE's concerns with the wording of the bill.

Naturally, an interpretation that prohibits on-premise consumption would be devastating to the state's craft brewers and might also prove to stifle millions of dollars in development. There are several breweries-in-planning that are building their business plans based on their understanding of SB 424.

The problem is that the bill is not explicit when it comes to on- versus off-premise consumption. Here is the portion of the bill as it relates to this conversation:

"A brewer license shall authorize the holder thereof: ... to sell beer produced by the licensee to consumers twenty-one (21) years of age or older on the premises of the brewery;"

There's also this:

"Samples and sales may only be distributed or consumed between 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Samples and sales of beer made or served by a brewery under this section shall not be considered a 'sale' of beer within the meaning of Article XXVIII of the Oklahoma Constitution or Section 506 of this title; however, such samples and sales of beer shall be considered beer removed or withdrawn from the brewery for 'use or consumption' within the meaning of Section 542 of this title for excise tax determination and reporting requirements."

As you can see, there is no distinction made concerning where the beer that is sold can be consumed; although in my view, saying "...sales may only be distributed or consumed between 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m." suggests the concept of on-premise consumption. After all, you can't regulate when people consume beer when they're sitting at their house, right? Seems to be a clear regulation of on-premise consumption.

My opinion, however, is not the one that really counts. Does ABLE have the grounds to essentially put its spin on the language of the bill?

We should know more tomorrow.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Liquor store association sues to block November vote

In a move that should surprise absolutely nobody, the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court asking a judge to stop the November vote on State Question 792.

The state question -- you may remember it as Senate Joint Resolution 68 -- would bring sweeping changes to Oklahoma's constitution as it pertains to our alcohol rules.

You can read a story on the lawsuit from The Oklahoman right here.

The RLAO suing to block the vote has been a distinct possibility for some time. I blogged in March that the group may consider legal action.

When the state Supreme Court rejected an initiative petition filed by the group Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom -- a petition that essentially mirrored SJR 68 -- you had to figure that would embolden RLAO to take action on SQ 792.

The Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom petition was filed as a back-up measure in case SJR 68 didn't make it out of the Legislature and onto the ballot. Why the court struck it down is unclear.

The court has not published an opinion or explanation, and Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom, now known as Yes on 792, told me recently they didn't anticipate the court would reveal its thinking.

The fact that the petition was struck down, and the fact that it so closely mirrored what is now SQ 792, should be troubling for anyone who had hoped to vote on that measure in November.

Will the district court see SQ 792 the same way the Supreme Court viewed the OCF petition? That is the question of the day.

So where do we go from here? Really, we could have any combination of things happen.

If the court throws out SQ 792, we may still end up with the RLAO's petition, SQ 791. However it's not clear enough signatures will be collected to get that measure on the ballot. (And then whether you like the language of that petition is an entirely different question.)

We could have no alcohol questions on the ballot -- thank goodness Senate Bill 424 was passed to help the state's craft brewers, at least.

That would leave Senate Bill 383 -- the measure that handles all the statutory changes needed to accompany SQ 792 -- dangling in the wind. Would the legislature try again next year with a new version of SJR 68? After all, SB 383 is not due to go into effect until the fall of 2018.

There's also the chance we could end up with both alcohol state questions on the ballot. I did some research on that eventuality, and found out that if there are two competing state questions, the one that garners the better percentage of support would be the one that goes into effect.

Wouldn't that be interesting.

However it shakes out, it will need to shake out fast. The deadline to print the November election ballots is coming up next month.

After it appeared we had at least some clarity on the issue, what will be on the ballot is now a total mystery.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Kolibri Ale Works seeks Kickstarter success

Wanting to start a brewery is one thing. Having enough money to do it is something altogether different.

There are several funding avenues potential brewers can pursue. You can seek investors who then get a share in the success of your company. That's certainly an expedient route to build out a capital-intensive project -- think about how fast Anthem rolled out its brewhouse.

That's also a way to have a lot of outside influence on your day-to-day operations. See Anthem again, when founder and brewmaster Matt Anthony suddenly parted ways with the company.

A second alternative is taking out bank loans and/or putting up your own collateral. You get to keep all the control, and nobody can run you out of town. But you're putting your own family's neck on the line if you can't make a little money and pay the bills.

Those aren't the only options, of course. One novel approach has been tried by a handful of Oklahoma brewers, with mixed results. That approach is the Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign.

The latest brewer-in-planning to go that route is Kolibri Ale Works, which is seeking $27,000 for a variety of items intended to help finish out its Tulsa brewery. Kolibri hopes to brew a variety of beer, including full-flavored gluten-free offerings.

The money would go toward the "purchase of a boil kettle, miscellaneous parts for the keg washer and bottling line. A trench drain system will also be installed in the building, along with assorted plumbing components."

With roughly two weeks to go in the campaign, Kolibri is still well shy of its goal. So far, they've collected pledges of $3,244 from 32 backers.

Four other Oklahoma brewers (that I'm aware of) have attempted Kickstarter campaigns over the years. They've actually batted 2-for-4 on those campaigns.

In 2013, Prairie launched a $10,000 campaign, and ultimately garnered $23,698 in pledges. For a pledge of at least $1,000, Prairie offered to name a beer and create a label in honor of the donor. Nine people took advantage of that offer. (Pretty sure Fred's Blend and Tulsa Rugby Ale were both a result of that offer -- anyone know of any others?)

In late 2012, Roughtail launched an ambitious campaign seeking $30,000 to build out a canning line. The campaign did not pan out, with $6,810 in pledges coming from 67 backers.

About the same time, Black Mesa faced the same fate as Roughtail. The longtime gypsy brewer sought $17,990 in order to purchase space at the now-defunct Oklahoma City Brewing Cooperative. Black Mesa secured pledges of $6,173 from 65 backers as the deadline expired.

Like Prairie, another brewery with Tulsa ties found Kickstarter success. Dead Armadillo's 2013 campaign garnered pledges of $11,380 -- more than its $10,000 goal. They did it mostly with small pledges. Only two people chipped in more than $500.

The basic premise of a Kickstarter campaign typically includes some type of swag or special perks offered up for those making pledges, with bigger pledges yielding bigger rewards. The campaigns are timed, and if the goal isn't reached before time is up, none of the pledges/rewards are collected/distributed.

Kolibri's offerings range from a $1 pledge in exchange for a Facebook shout-out, to $30 for a Belgian glass, to $1,000 to have a fermenter named after you, to $4,000 to name the company's mascot.

You can find the campaign page by clicking right here.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Renaissance Brewing set for public release

I like to joke that when anyone tells me they'll open a brewery in a certain month, you should automatically tack on five months to that plan.

There's a definite level of truth to the quip, because opening a brewery in Oklahoma involves a long and winding road littered with many hoops to jump through and much red tape to tear down.

It almost always takes longer than you think.

Glenn Hall knows that story all too well.

Hall, a longtime homebrewer and former IT professional in Tulsa, started the wheels in motion on his plan for Renaissance Brewing Co. nearly five years ago.

Tonight, his beer will go on sale to the public for the first time.

Renaissance is holding a Beer Release and Pint Night from 4 to 7 p.m. at Dead Armadillo Brewery, 1004 E 4th St., in Tulsa.

Hall said he sees tonight's release -- where they'll serve up pints of Renaissance Gold German Style Golden Ale and Renaissance Indian Wheat German Style Hefeweizen -- as another step in a long journey.

"I’ve kind of prepared for it all along," Hall said Friday morning. "I’ve always had a long-term vision. I see 10 years in advance.

"I’m patient and I knew it wasn’t easy, especially here in Oklahoma."

The work will continue for Hall and his brewing partner, successful homebrewer Kelsey Schumacher, as they work on construction of their Tulsa brewery building at 1147 S Lewis Ave. -- what Hall describes as a "hyperlocal" neighborhood brewery.

They are erecting steel on the building now, and Hall said he expects that in August they will begin interior work, including electrical and plumbing. The plan calls for Renaissance to transition its brewing operations into the new facility from Dead Armadillo, where they are gypsy brewing now, sometime early next year.

In the meantime, craft beer fans can try Renaissance tonight, and also at 5 p.m. Tuesday at The Fur Shop in Tulsa, and then at noon Saturday, July 23 at Oak & Ore.

The beers are being produced in kegs only now, but Hall said he expects all four of their brands to be released in four-pack, 16 oz. cans within the next two to three months.

He said he hopes to have his brewery building, complete with a tap room, event space and a pair of upstairs apartments -- a B&B, or Bed & Beer -- ready to go by summer 2017.

Hall said getting his beer out to the public in bars in Oklahoma City and Tulsa ahead of his brewery opening is "a bonus."

"We’re not there yet," he said. "My vision is getting our facility completely finished, that’s really when it’s all going to come together."

When all is said and done, it'll likely be closer to a six-year process from beginning to brewery for Hall.

"It’s not for the faint of heart," he said. "You’ve got to be dedicated. You’ve got to really love it."

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Plaza District announces monthly Plaza Beer Walk

Exciting news from restaurant owners in the Plaza District this week: five venues in the revitalized stretch along NW 16 will participate in a monthly Plaza Beer Walk, beginning July 27.

Here's a news release from the Plaza District with more details:

OKLAHOMA CITY – Following the success of the Oskar Blues Plaza District Pub Crawl in April, the Plaza District restaurant owners are announcing plans for a monthly Plaza Beer Walk, taking place on the last Wednesday of every month starting July 27th. Participating restaurants include Empire Slice House, Saints, The Mule, GorĊ Ramen + Izakaya, and Oak & Ore. The events will benefit a different local school each quarter.

“One of the things the Plaza District restaurants have in common is the generous and high quality selection of craft beer at each establishment,” says Josh Jefferson of Saints. “We all thought that it would be fun to share our patrons’ love for craft beer with an ongoing beer walk featuring a different brewery each month. Each restaurant will have a different time slot to pour a featured beer from that brewery, and customers can move from one restaurant to the next to try the different offerings. We also wanted to find a way to support some local schools that are dealing with sharp budget cuts.”

The events will kick off at 5 p.m. and move to the next restaurant each hour. Brewery representatives will be on hand to talk about their beers and give out swag. Plaza District retailers will also stay open late to participate in the festivities.

“The Plaza District as a whole is pretty excited for the monthly Plaza Beer Walk,” said Cayla Lewis, Plaza District Director. “The camaraderie and collaboration our businesses have with one another is unmatched, in my opinion, and an event like this allows restaurants and retailers to combine forces to throw a great party in our home district!”  

Plaza Beer Walk July 27th Featuring Lagunitas Brewing Co.
5 p.m. – Empire Slice House: Lagunitas Pils-Czech Style Pilsner
6 p.m. – Saints: Lagunitas Lucky 13-An Ultra-Mega-Mondo Red ale
7 p.m. – The Mule: Lagunitas IPA-American IPA
8 p.m. – Oak & Ore: Lagunitas Aunt Sally-Dry-Hopped Sweet Tart Sour Mash Ale

Collect a ticket at each restaurant with purchase of the feature Lagunitas beer. Trade in the 4 tickets at Oak & Ore for a limited edition Lagunitas glass!

Love to see the event benefit local schools, and I really appreciate the collaboration of the district venues. This should become a must-do event each month.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Choc eyes possible McCurtain County venture

Nothing reminds you of how old you are like attending your wife's 20-year high school reunion.

Alas, this past weekend I found myself celebrating Broken Bow High School class of 1996, and simultaneously realizing I'm locked in a long, bitter fight with Father Time.

All was not doom and gloom, however. The reunion was a ton of fun, and in case you didn't know, the Broken Bow area is turning into quite the alcohol hotbed.

The latest addition to the southeast Oklahoma beverage scene -- Mountain Fork Brewery -- is set to open within a few weeks just north of the city of Broken Bow in Hochatown.

That gives the Hochatown area (adjacent to Broken Bow Lake and Beavers Bend State Park) two breweries, three wineries and a distillery. And all this within about a 1- or 2-square-mile area.

In addition, McCurtain County passed liquor-by-the-drink in 2015, and several of the restaurants in the Hochatown area -- Abendigo's, Moon Tower Bar & Grill and Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Tap Room -- offer beer selections ranging from decent to excellent.

I'll give a full recap of the Hochatown alcohol scene coming up soon on the blog. Today I'm going to talk about a little intel I scored while touring around Hochatown.

That intel involves Choc and, possibly, Prairie. When Choc President Zach Prichard announced on the Prairie blog last month that Choc had acquired Chase Healey's company, he mentioned that he would seek additional locations for Prairie pubs.

My sources in Hochatown confirm that Prichard and Healey have indeed done some leg work in McCurtain County recently, visiting the area to talk in person with officials from Mountain Fork Brewery. The sources indicate that Prichard went so far as to make an offer to acquire Mountain Fork, however the offer was rebuked as Mountain Fork seeks to carve out its own identity.

I checked in with Prichard on Monday, and he disputed the sources' account of a possible offer, but did confirm that he "would love" to open a pub in Hochatown and that he is actively seeking a development partner in the area.

Prichard said any Choc/Prairie location in McCurtain County may not carry the name of either company, however, telling me that they may attempt to develop a new brand for such a venture.

So, while Hochatown is putting itself on the map as an adult beverage destination, it may be in line for huge boost from the state's most established brewery in the not-too-distant future.

Pints and Pins

-Oak & Ore is offering a special beer tapping today. They'll tap the 2016 version of Rodenbach Alexander -- a Flanders red ale that hasn't been brewed for commercial purposes since 1999. Tickets for the beer will go on sale at 5, with special glassware featured. The beer will pour at 6 p.m.

-Pub W Memorial Road is holding an Omnipollo pint night on Thursday with complimentary glassware while supplies last.

-The Patriarch has scheduled its next Beer Cinema, this time featuring "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." The movie is set for 8 p.m. July 21 and will be paired with the excellent Founders ReDANKulous imperial IPA.

-Republic has planned its next beer dinner. The event is set for July 26, featuring beers from Rogue. More info available here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

On Durant, Westbrook and OKC joining the real pro sports fraternity

Well folks, my summer blogcation is over.

I've had a little R&R from posting the past little while as I worked on organization and publicity for Oklahoma City Craft Beer Week and then transitioned into my annual summer family road trip to Disney World, and then spent time with the family over the long weekend.

Now I'm ready to dive back in. But I'm not going to talk about beer just yet. First, I want to take a little diversion into the world of sports.

This post will be about Kevin Durant, but not really about No. 35.

The truth is, the time to discuss Durant is over.

Really, there's no point. There's no solace earned by breaking down why he made the decision he made, or hyper-analyzing what he said or didn't say.

In five days the situation went from a "longtime friend" saying Durant was 90 percent certain he would stay in Oklahoma City, to a person "with knowledge of Durant's thought process" saying Durant left because he was sick of playing with Russell Westbrook.

I can tell you right now, even if you could make sense of all the noise and unnamed sources, it doesn't really matter.

And I know from personal sports-fan experience. I was born and raised in Toronto and have been a Raptors fan since Day 1 of the franchise in 1995. Us Raptors fans were dumped not once, but twice by supposed franchise players.

Most recently it was Chris Bosh, who made it clear he would not re-sign with the Raptors when he hit unrestricted free agency. Bosh decided to form a triumvirate with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade in Miami. The Raptors at least took advantage of a sign-and-trade and got a pair of draft picks (one of them ended up being Jonas Valanciunas) in the deal. As Bosh was heading out the door, he said this to Toronto fans:

"Know that this was my toughest decision, mostly because Toronto has been so great to me. I've loved every minute here and I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Sound sort of familiar?

Before Bosh, Raptors fans suffered through a thoroughly messy Vince Carter exit. Now, I'm not saying Bosh nor Carter were the type of player Durant is, but if you followed the NBA in the 1999 to 2002 era, you know Carter was an insane freak of a basketball player. I mean, just watch this:

Carter became an NBA and global superstar in a city with a reputation as an outpost where you supposedly couldn't get people to want to play.

Sound sort of familiar?

Carter soured on the franchise after six-and-a-half years, and most Toronto fans believe he actually started tanking in games, including refusing to dunk. For years after his departure, Toronto fans booed him lustily whenever he returned.

The Raptors were forced to move Carter a couple months into the 2004 season as losses piled up. They shipped him to the Nets for two journeymen, Alonzo Mourning (who refused to report to Toronto, forcing the team to pay him $10 million to buy out his contract) and two draft picks.

The league knew the Raptors had to unload him, and thus the team had no leverage. Essentially, they lost one of the most dynamic and influential players in the league, right in the middle of his prime, for pretty much nothing.

Sound sort of familiar?

So why am I telling you all this? Because, OKC, this is your real-deal "Welcome to pro sports" moment. Very rare is the pro athlete who truly plays for the city. Durant was not playing for Oklahoma City. He was playing for the Thunder and for his paycheck. He was playing to win and have fun.

He probably felt like he could win more and have more fun in Golden State. If I had to guess, I'd put that at the heart of his decision.

But what about poor Oklahoma City, left to pick itself up in the aftermath of Durant's decision? The truth is Durant didn't care enough about Oklahoma City to stay here. If he really did, he would have stayed.

But guess what? Tough luck, OKC. That's pro sports. You've really had your initiation now, so welcome to the pro sports fraternity, where it doesn't always work out. In fact, it works out far less than it doesn't.

Oklahoma City has been lucky enough to live in some some of pro sports dream world the past several years. Follow a team for 20 or 30 years, and you're bound to have many ups and downs, several versions of the team; an ocean's current of players gliding in and out of town each season like the tide.

There may not be another Durant, but 10 years from now, there will be a new star in Oklahoma City, a new anchor. It's the natural progression of pro sports. You'll rally around the next guy. You'll rally around a bunch of young fighters who scrap to make the playoffs. It's how pro sports work.

You have to play the hand you're dealt if you want to be a fan of the team, because you're from this city and you're not leaving.

Unlike a certain lanky jump shooter. But like I said, this is not really about Durant. He's gone and not coming back. What I really want to talk about is what we can learn from the Bosh and Carter examples as it applies to Westbrook.

For starters, I like Westbrook -- and not just because he's the guy who's still on the team. After all, he might not be for long.

I like Westbrook's fire. He will straight up attempt to destroy anyone who stands in his way. If there's one person who would actually relish the chance to try winning without Durant -- just to prove you shouldn't underestimate him -- it's Westbrook.

So I could totally see Westbrook playing out the next season and then signing long-term with the Thunder. But...

The Raptors thought they could get Bosh to re-sign, too. They waited too long and got scraps in return. The Thunder waited on Durant, and because they couldn't do a sign-and-trade, got absolutely nothing in return.

Sam Presti absolutely cannot let Westbrook walk for nothing. So, that leaves essentially three viable options:

1. Westbrook gives you an ironclad blood promise that he will play out the 2016-17 season and then re-sign long-term as the face of the franchise.

2. Westbrook doesn't give you an ironclad blood promise that he will re-sign, and you trade him before this next season starts -- heck even this summer to just get it over with.

3. Westbrook doesn't give you a guarantee and you wait to see how the season plays out before dealing him.

Option No. 1 is obviously best for Thunder fans at this point. Westbrook is really good, and there are some good young pieces around him -- you can do some stuff with him running the show. You don't win 65 games, but you maybe can win 50-55 and still be a playoff regular.

Option No. 2 makes the most sense from a business perspective. If you're not sure Westbrook will re-sign, ship him off while the gettin's good and hope to land a franchise-ish player in return.

Option No. 3 is the worst of all choices, and immediately puts you in a lose-lose situation. If you embark on the season with Westbrook on board, and things go well, how do you break up the team as they're looking like a play-off lock? You probably can't, and then you risk a Durant replay with Westbrook walking.

If you keep Westbrook and things go south -- it becomes clear the team likely won't make the playoffs -- now you have to move him and everyone knows it, and you've lost all your leverage. You end up in the Vince Carter situation, getting a lousy collection of bit parts and low-end draft picks.

I can tell you, all three of the Bosh, Carter and Durant situations suck, and OKC would do well to avoid all of them.

My gut says Presti won't end up with a repeat of Durant if he can help it, and he's smart enough to know that the best Westbrook trade is one that maximizes return.

Now, do I think Westbrook will give this ironclad promise to stay? Not really. There aren't too many, or any, players who do that type of thing anymore. So my money is on Westbrook being gone before the season begins.

Kind of hard to believe it could go this way for the Thunder -- moving immediately from championship to lottery contender within a few months time.

But that is pro sports.

Sometimes you just have to ride the waves until the tide comes back in.