Oklahoma City Thunder fans have been posting heartfelt messages on social media for Kiwi Steven Adams, with his departure from the franchise imminent.
NBA reporters Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski have tweeted that Adams is expected to be shipped off to New Orleans Pelicans as part of a four-team trade.
Earlier this week, the Pelicans agreed to trade Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee in a deal that saw the Bucks send draft picks to New Orleans. The deal moving Adams to the Pelicans is an expansion of the Holiday trade, which now also includes Denver Nuggets, who will send draft picks to the Thunder.
The Thunder are firmly in rebuild mode, after trading Chris Paul to Phoenix Suns and moving fellow point guard Dennis Schroder to LA Lakers in exchange for draft picks.
Adams has spent his entire career with the Thunder, who drafted him with the 12th pick in 2013, and is a cult hero in Oklahoma, so news of his pending departure has upset fans.
The 27-year-old is heading into the final season of his a four-year contract, worth US$27.5 million (NZ$38m) this season.
"Thank you, Steven Adams, for your time in Oklahoma City," one Twitter user said. "One of the funniest and nicest players in the entire league.
"Someone who I would’ve loved to see be an OKC lifer."
"One of the few constants through constantly changing OKC rosters.
"Thank you, Kiwi."
Another fan called for the Thunder to "retire" Adams' jersey number, meaning nobody could wear No.12 again.
ESPN NBA writer Royce Young, who covers the Thunder, says the move isn't a surprise, but will shock some fans.
"It's been pretty well known and understood what the Thunder were planning to do, but trading Steven Adams was still a jolt for some fans," says Young. "The rebuild just became very real for a lot of people."
Several fans have also created video montages of Adams' best moments with the Thunder, while others have asked Pelicans fans to take care of him.
With one year left on his contract, Adams could easily be on the move again at the end of next season.
At the Pelicans, Adams will team up with last season's No.1 draft pick Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball - whose brother LaMelo played with Illawarra Hawks last season - and sharpshooter JJ Redick, one of the NBA's best three-point exponents.
Former Thunder teammate Kendrick Perkins, who now works at ESPN, thinks the trade is great for Adams.
"The Pelicans landing Steven Adams is a GREAT pick up," he tweets.
Sports Illustrated reporter Jeremy Woo gives the Pelicans an A-minus grade for landing Adams.
"With Adams, the Pelicans directly address two of last season’s primary areas of concern - defensive rebounding and rim protection," Woo says.
"There may not have been a better player on the market in that respect, the 27-year-old Adams having deftly anchored playoff-calibre teams for each of the past five seasons.
"Adams' counting stats will never wholly reflect how impactful a player he is, but he's almost universally respected for his commitment to doing the dirty work.
"The Pelicans instantly become a more physically imposing team and will hope he sets the tone for their younger players."