The Oklahoma City Thunder were caught off guard when All-Star forward Paul George demanded a trade. Instead of keeping an unhappy superstar next season, the Thunder ended up trading George to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and four future first-round picks. The Thunder may have received some players that could help Russell Westbrook compete in the deep Western Conference but with no clear path to title contention, they are now reportedly considering taking a different route.
In his recent article, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the Thunder are exploring the possibility of trading the face of the franchise, Russell Westbrook, and undergoing a full-scale rebuild. When rumors about Westbrook started to circulate around the league, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald revealed in a Twitter post that the Miami Heat are very interested in adding Westbrook to their roster.
After acquiring Jimmy Butler in the 2019 NBA free agency, targeting Russell Westbrook makes a lot of sense for the Heat. The addition of Butler will undeniably boost the Heat’s performance on both ends but in order to be considered a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference, they need more star power on their roster. Like Butler, Westbrook is currently in his prime. Last season, the 30-year-old point guard averaged 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 10.7 assists, and 1.9 steals on 42.8 percent shooting from the field and 29.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
With the Thunder suddenly in flux and Russell Westbrook potentially on the trade block, should the Pistons pursue the former MVP? A look at the possible costs. https://t.co/WXqo6KH4DA— USA TODAY NBA (@usatodaynba) July 7, 2019
To acquire Russell Westbrook, Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated suggested that the Heat could offer a trade package centered on Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo to the Thunder. To match Westbrook’s salary, the Heat will also be needing to add veteran point guard Goran Dragic in the deal.
“Does Miami have the assets to land Westbrook? There is a potential pathway to a deal. Miami could send a package centered around Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow to Oklahoma City, and Goran Dragic could also be on the move granted the Thunder wish to acquire an aging point guard (albeit one on an expiring deal). Miami has little draft compensation to offer, though Presti is already rolling in picks after the George deal. There isn’t significant upside in the deal for Oklahoma City on the surface, but Miami can provide a high-floor landing spot if the Thunder are eager for a rebuild.”
If the trade becomes a reality, it will not only be beneficial for the Heat but also for the Thunder. In exchange for Russell Westbrook, the Thunder will be acquiring two young and promising talents, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow, who could be the foundational piece of the next title-contending team that they will try to build in Oklahoma City. Goran Dragic’s expiring contract will enable the Thunder to open up a huge chunk of their salary cap space in the summer of 2020.