All-Star guard Russell Westbrook is reportedly ready to move on from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the aftermath of the Paul George mega trade and has identified the Miami Heat as an appealing destination.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski had already identified the Heat as a potential landing spot for Westbrook should the Thunder choose to completely rebuild after George’s shocking trade demand to join Kawhi Leonard in Los Angeles, but this is the first time Wojnarowski is reporting that not only is Westbrook receptive to a trade but that he is specifically interested in joining the Heat.
The Miami Heat have expressed interest, a potential destination that also appeals to Westbrook, league sources said.
Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, have been discussing trade possibilities and scenarios with Presti, and the sides are both motivated to find a resolution sooner rather than later, league sources told ESPN.
That could potentially make Miami the favorites to land one of the best guards in the game, but how much will Pat Riley be willing to part with and how much of a haul are the Thunder seeking? It’s unclear which teams would be willing to put together a package to match or best the Heat’s offer, and whether or not Westbrook would even be receptive to joining a team like the Detroit Pistons in the first place.
After the Thunder’s unprecedented haul for George, in which they acquired several valuable draft picks from the Clippers (including two Heat first rounders), general manager Sam Presti will presumably do the classy thing and trade Westbrook to a team he desires. Sending him to the East would also be preferable.
For the math to work, the Heat would surely have to offer a trade package including Goran Dragic and his expiring $19 million contract along with young prospects such as Justise Winslow and/or Bam Adebayo. Because of previous trades, Miami is limited to what it can offer as far as draft picks go but can offer the option to swap first round picks as well.
Westbrook, who won the MVP award just two years ago, has proven to be durable during his time with the Thunder despite undergoing at least six right knee operations over the last several years, including an ACL reconstruction. His most recent surgery on his right knee took place approximately two months ago according to SB Nation’s Welcome to Loud City. Described as a minor surgery and “proactive maintenance” by the team, Westbrook also had a procedure done to repair a torn ligament in a finger on his left hand at the conclusion of the season.
The perennial All-Star has now averaged a triple-double in his past three seasons, a historic feat. His shooting percentage and scoring average have notably dipped in each of those years, but he averaged career-highs in both assists (10.7) and rebounds (11.1) last season.
Though there is considerable risk with a potential deal that would have to include the Heat’s most attractive assets, along with a sizable four-year $170 commitment for the rest of his massive contract, Westbrook would certainly make a tantalizing pairing with the recently acquired Jimmy Butler in a wide-open Eastern Conference after Leonard’s departure.