In the wake of Paul George forcing his way to the Clippers, Russell Westbrook and Thunder management have talked and both are now looking at trade possibilities for the former MVP point guard.
The challenge is where? Westbrook has four years, just less than $170 million left on his contract (the last year of that is a $46 million player option, is there really any question he picks that up?). Sources around the Las Vegas Summer League have said that number — and Westbrook’s ball-dominant style — have a number of teams backing away.
Miami is reportedly interested, and Westbrook is interested in them as well, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
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 [Thunder president Sam] Presti, and the sides are both motivated to find a resolution sooner rather than later, league sources told ESPN.
Westbrook wants to play for a team pursuing contention, which is no longer the case with the Thunder.
Miami did a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia for Jimmy Butler, which complicates trading for Westbrook on a couple of different levels. One is simply the players Miami has to offer — Josh Richardson, a player coveted in many front offices around the league, is no longer in the mix. Miami has a lot of salaries that could be put together to match Westbrook’s $35.7 million next season — Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Kelly Olynyk, Dion Waiters, James Johnson — but do any of them interest the rebuilding Thunder? The picks the Heat can trade also are years out (both their 2021 first-round pick, unprotected, and 2023 first-rounder, lottery protected, now belong to OKC from the George trade).
The other problem: The Butler trade hard-capped the Heat this season, and they are already close to that number, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks explains.
There are creative ways to get a trade done, and a third team could be brought in to make it work. But this would be a tough deal to make work for both sides.