Following the shocking news early Saturday that the Los Angeles Clippers had not only signed Kawhi Leonard, but also acquired Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder, many NBA observers turned to George’s former team, which is now left with only one star, guard Russell Westbrook.
With the Thunder obtaining a large cache of future draft choices in the George trade, it indicated that it might be time for Oklahoma City to embark on a rebuilding project. And that could mean trading Westbrook, a past MVP and multi-time All-Star. However, the 30-year-old Westbrook has one of the largest contracts in the NBA, with four years and $170 million remaining on it, which could give potential teams pause as the player enters his 30s.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, per The Inquisitr, have been mentioned as a possible Westbrook suitor, with Andrew Wiggins rumored as the centerpiece going back to Oklahoma City in such a deal. Other teams mentioned have been the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, and Orlando Magic.
Now, at least two reporters have listed the Miami Heat as a possible landing spot for Russell Westbrook. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, appearing on air during the network’s broadcast of Las Vegas Summer League games, described the Heat as “a team to watch” for a possible trade for Westbrook, although he mentioned, of the contract, that “it is a lot of money.” Wojnarowski’s comment was posted to Twitter by the NBA Central account.
A Miami-based reporter, Barry Jackson, tweeted Saturday that the Heat had interest in the star guard.
“Been made clear to us this afternoon that Heat officials absolutely like Westbrook,” Jackson said. “We’ll see where it leads, if anywhere.”
Neither reporter mentioned any players who might come back from Miami in such a deal. The Heat, per ESPN‘s depth chart, have several players, such as Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, and Kelly Olynyk, who are relatively highly paid, but not nearly as compensated as Westbrook, nor are any of them signed nearly as far in the future. A deal with some of those players would give the Thunder long-term salary cap relief, while also cutting down on their luxury tax penalties.
The Heat’s major acquisition this offseason was swingman Jimmy Butler, who, like Westbrook, is both a ball-dominant offensive player and one with a history of strained relations with teammates. However, various teams in recent years, such the Houston Rockets, have not shied away from putting such players on the same roster.