Russell Westbrook’s name has come up more than any other player not named Kevin Durant this offseason. After seeing Durant leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors, trade rumors immediately started coming out about Westbrook. There is a good chance that he will leave the Thunder as well next offseason in free agency if Oklahoma City doesn’t trade him first.
According to a report from David Aldridge of NBA.com, Westbrook will not be signing an extension this season. That means he will hit the open free agency market in 2017.
Told emphatically by league source there's no chance Russell Westbrook will do a renegotiation/extension of his contract (one yr remaining).— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 4, 2016
That will open the door for quite a few different teams to make aggressive pitches to Westbrook. There have already been a lot of teams who have been preparing their pitches to Westbrook. Obviously, teams like the Los Angeles Lakers will be involved when free agency opens up, but there is one dark horse team to keep an eye on.
Pat Riley and the Miami Heat are coming off of a disastrous offseason. They were able to re-sign star big man Hassan Whiteside to start off free agency but were unable to retain the face of the franchise, Dwyane Wade. The shooting guard left Miami to sign with the Chicago Bulls.
Could the Heat end up being serious suitors for Westbrook next offseason when free agency opens up?
Ryan DiPentima of the Palm Beach Post wrote a compelling column about why the Heat should be considered a serious landing spot for Westbrook. He certainly made some intriguing points that make sense.
Last season with the Thunder, Westbrook took over as the best superstar on the team. He averaged 23.5 points, 10.4 assists, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game. Westbrook shot 45.4 percent from the field overall and knocked down 29.6 percent of his three-point shots.
Miami has always been aggressive in free agency. They were able to poach LeBron James from the Cleveland Cavaliers a few years back in one of the biggest free agency heists in recent NBA history. If Riley was able to convince Westbrook to sign with the Heat, he would go down as one of the biggest geniuses of the free agency market in league history.
Westbrook is ready to be the centerpiece of a franchise. Oklahoma City will certainly try to bring him back and build around him, but there is always the chance that he will want a fresh start as well.
If the Heat were able to sign Westbrook, they would immediately become serious contenders with James and the Cavaliers. Westbrook would also find the road to the postseason much easier than it has been for him in the Western Conference. A showdown between Westbrook and Durant in the NBA Finals would be must-see television if the Warriors and Heat faced off against each other.
Expect to hear plenty of trade rumors surrounding Westbrook throughout the 2016-17 season. There will be teams trying to acquire him, even if he will just be a one-year rental. Oklahoma City could be pressured into trading him, simply due to the fear of losing him in free agency for nothing.
All of that being said, keep an eye on the Heat when it comes to Westbrook. Riley is an aggressive team president, and that will not change. If he sees a chance to bring in one of the top superstars in the NBA, he will do whatever it takes to make that happen.
Do you think the Miami Heat should be considered a serious contender to sign or trade for Russell Westbrook? Would he be a good fit with the Heat and get them back to the top of the Eastern Conference? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
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