With the NBA free agent season nearly over, and numerous big name players changing teams in the last week, eyes are now turning to one player in particular: Oklahoma City Thunder guard and former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook.
With the Thunder trading Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for a bevy of draft picks, reports say that the team is planning to engage its last remaining star, Westbrook, about his future. A trade is certainly possible, even though Westbrook is owed a tremendous amount of money: $171 million over the next four years.
Trade speculation has begun to center on a handful of teams, including the Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, and Minnesota Timberwolves. Per The Athletic, another team, the Detroit Pistons, can also be added to the list.
"Sources say that Detroit and Miami are very real possibilities as potential landing spots for the 30-year-old eight-time All-Star," NBA reporters Sam Amick and Brett Dawson wrote over the weekend. They went on to list Pistons players Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, and Tony Snell as possible players who would head to Oklahoma City in the event of a Westbrook trade. Those players are owed a great deal of money in the next two years, but aren't signed for as long as Westbrook is.
Detroit Free Press columnist Vince Ellis addressed the issue in a piece on Sunday. In the column, Ellis quoted multiple unnamed sources about the idea of the Pistons making a trade for Westbrook. One source, dubbed "someone who would know if the Detroit Pistons would be interested," told Ellis that the Thunder, who already have highly-paid center Steven Adams, would not be likely to pursue Drummond.Another league source told Ellis that the rumors of interest in Westbrook by Detroit are "ridiculous" and that there's "nothing there." The columnist went on to conclude that the Pistons "will do their due diligence" on a potential Westbrook deal.
While a Westbrook trade is certainly a possibility, there's been no reports indicating that trade talks have begun between the Thunder and any other team for the All-Star. However, the Thunder are known for operating with few media leaks, as the team both acquired Paul George in 2017 and traded him away two years later without any rumors of either trade before beforehand.
The 30-year-old Westbrook grew up near Los Angeles and played at UCLA, although the recent superstar binges by both the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers leave both no room or no trade assets to facilitate a move of the player to his hometown.