Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams could bear the brunt of the backlash from the Oklahoma City Thunder's impending NBA playoffs failure, says American journalist Bill Simmons.
A popular author, podcaster and sports pundit, Simmons said Adams' underwhelming performance in the Thunder's series against the Trailblazers – where they sit on the cusp of elimination at 3-1 down – may see the 27-year-old become the "fall guy".
"The guy they are going to have to trade is Adams who has been really, really disappointing … not only in this series but down the stretch too," he said on The Bill Simmons Podcast.
"This is a series where he is by far the best big man and he's not really having an impact on it. I've seen nothing from him this series.
"I don't know what kind of physical shape he's in but that's the way they have to think. Adams is probably the fall guy coming out of this because they are not going to break up Russell Westbrook and Paul George."
Co-host Ryen Russillo – an ESPN analyst – concurred, citing Adams' deal relative to those of his All Star teammates. He's set to earn more than $77 million over the next three years.
"You're right. Adams is a big number. I think he's in a really bad spot."
Simmons – who has almost six million Twitter followers – still believes Adams has plenty to offer an NBA team, provided the system fit is right.
Going head to head with former teammate and 'stache brother' Enes Kanter, Adams has had minimal impact on the series against the Trail Blazers.
He sat the entire fourth quarter in Monday's (NZ time) 111-98 loss, finishing with just six points and seven rebounds.
A loss in game five in Portland on Wednesday will see the Thunder eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
Earlier this month, Adams was nominated for the Teammate of the Year Award, which will be named at the NBA Awards in June.