NBA Rumors: Russell Westbrook Trade To Happen Prior To Season, Boston Celtics Emerge As Favorites

Jason Fletcher

Almost immediately following Kevin Durant's announcement that he would be leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors, rumors began to swirl that Russell Westbrook would be the next guy to follow Durant out the door. Westbrook's contract ends after the 2016-17 season and trading him this offseason would allow the Thunder to get something in return for Russell instead of potentially letting him walk next year.

Ideally, general manager Sam Presti would be able to sign Westbrook to a contract extension this summer that would keep him in Oklahoma City for the foreseeable future, but sources have already told TNT's David Aldridge that Russell isn't signing any contract until he hits free agency.

— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 4, 2016

Not only does is Beck reporting that Russell may leave during free agency next season, but his sources also told him that Presti might be prepared to trade Westbrook prior to the 2016-17 season. Beck also mentions that there's a strong feeling among NBA general managers that the most likely destination for Russell would be the Boston Celtics.

— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) July 13, 2016

Just yesterday, the Inquisitr reported that the Celtics were holding discussions with the Los Angeles Clippers on a deal involving Blake Griffin, and the team has also been linked to trade discussions involving Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. While both of those guys are considerable talents, neither is on the same level as Russell.

Any deal for Westbrook would likely have to involve one or both of the Celtics' first-round picks that they acquired from the Brooklyn Nets in the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade. In addition, the Celtics would likely have to include at least one, possibly two players from their current roster.

That being said, Ainge must pursue a deal for Russell. To have the opportunity to acquire Westbrook and pair him with Horford, and with potentially Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas, would instantly make the Celtics a championship contender. It's the entire reason that Ainge stockpiled all of these assets to be able to pull off a monster deal for a superstar.

— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) July 13, 2016

"Even though Cleveland is the defending champion and will be favored to return next spring to the Finals, Boston adding a player like Westbrook would instantly put them in the conversation as a team that could threaten the Cavs and advance to the Finals," Blakely wrote.

It'll be interesting to see if Ainge can pull this deal off for the Celtics. If he acquires Russell Westbrook, he would instantly become one of the most revered sports figures in Boston history.

[Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]