NBA: Kiwi star Steven Adams focused on future role with Oklahoma City Thunder

With trade rumours swirling, Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams isn't looking beyond his Oklahoma City Thunder future, after another early playoff exit.

Adams, 25, was reduced to a bench role for crucial periods of the 4-1 Western Conference first-round defeat, mainly due to match-up requirements.

Portland employed a smaller line-up in the closing stages of games, with Thunder coach Billy Donovan choosing to follow suit by leaving his biggest starter on the sideline.

But when he was on the court, the seven-foot (2.13m) centre, who averaged 11.8 points and 7.2 rebounds, also had his hands full against former teammate and off-court buddy Enes Kanter (13.2/10.2).

As fans and critics search for answers, Adams has become a target for blame, and he wasn't hiding his disappointment or providing any quick solutions.

"The whole objective, right from the get-go, is to win a championship," he told media at his end-of-season interview. "Anything short of that, it's kind of hard to say 'we did OK'.

"That's just for me personally - you set out with this objective, you don't get the objective done.

"Other people could be different, mate, that's just me."   

Entering the mid-February All-Star break, Oklahoma City were sitting pretty at 37 wins-20 losses and third in the Western Conference, but slumped to 12-13 over the final two months of the regular season.

Star forward Paul George, who had been a Most Valuable Player candidate, picked up a shoulder injury that saw him drop out of contention as the schedule wound to a close.

Fingers have been pointed at coach Donovan and star point guard Russell Westbrook, but Adams' career-best form also dipped. He finished with 13.9 points/9.5 rebounds, after averaging 'double-doubles' mid-season.

Trade rumours began as a hot-take from respected US sportswriter Bill Simmons on his podcast, but picked up momentum through social media as the Portland series progressed.

Asked what he might work on during the off-season, Adams identified his declining success at the free-throw line as one area, but continuing to consolidate his role within the Thunder was also high on the list.

Whatever that line-up might look like - or whether he's still part of it - once the dust setttles.

"Same stuff, get with them... trying to figure out roughly what the role is," he said. "They'll figure it out and go into detail, watch some film and develop it from there."

As for fixing whatever's broken with the Thunder, Adams refused to be drawn.

"I don't know, mate, there's no one answer," responded cagily. "There's too many answers."