Ever since the shocking news early Saturday morning that the Los Angeles Clippers had signed Kawhi Leonard and that they were trading for Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder to bring in with him, many eyes have turned to the Thunder and their one remaining superstar, Russell Westbrook.
The veteran guard, per ESPN, is “talking next steps” with Oklahoma City, and that could include a trade away from the Thunder, the only team for which Westbrook has played in his 11-year career. The Thunder, who acquired five first round picks from the Clippers in the George deal, are positioned to begin a rebuilding campaign, and it would follow for them to consider parting with their highly paid star. The Thunder are also thought to want to reduce their luxury tax burden.
Any team trading for Westbrook would also be acquiring one of the largest contracts in the game, which has four years and $170 million remaining on it, per ESPN. Westbrook signed that “supermax” deal in 2017.
Among teams mentioned as possible destinations for Westbrook in the early rumor mill are the Miami Heat and New York Knicks. Another team is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are known to be looking for a new point guard, and recently missed out on another player named Russell: D’Angelo Russell.
If they were to acquire Westbrook, the Timberwolves could pair him with young center Karl-Anthony Towns, and a young core that includes Robert Covington, Josh Okogie, and first round pick Jarrett Culver.
Per The Sports Daily, one potential scenario has Minnesota offering their own expensive contract, Andrew Wiggins, along with guard Jeff Teague and a future draft pick. While the contract of Wiggins, the former top overall pick who many consider a disappointment, has been called untradeable, he is six years younger than Westbrook, and is actually owed $50 million less money ($122.2 million) in his remaining four years.
OK, we’ll ask it...— SKOR North (@SKORNorth) July 6, 2019
According to @wojespn, the Thunder shopped Russell Westbrook this week as part of the eventual Paul George trade.
If Westbrook really is available, should the Timberwolves make a phone call? ???? pic.twitter.com/qWma7PFbA1
A Sports Illustrated piece, also published Saturday, looked at potential trade destinations for Westbrook, and also suggested a trade centered on Wiggins, one which would allow the Thunder to assemble a “backcourt of the future” of Wiggins and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The story also lists the Knicks, Heat, Boston Celtics, and Orlando Magic as possible landing spots for the former All-Star and MVP.
It’s worth noting, however, that no one covering the NBA has stated as fact that Oklahoma City is in active trade discussions with the Timberwolves for a deal involving Westbrook.