Russell Westbrook is reportedly already meeting with Oklahoma City Thunder team management about the possibility of a trade and may have his sights set on the Miami Heat.
The former NBA MVP was a surprise insertion to the trading block after the team pulled off a trade shipping Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers. The deal was completed under total secrecy and only leaked out in the early morning hours on Saturday, when Kawhi Leonard picked the Clippers and convinced George to join him.
The move sent a huge haul of draft picks to the Thunder, moving them into a rebuilding period, and there are reports that Westbrook will not stick around for it. As ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, Westbrook wants to be traded to a competitor and is interested in the Miami Heat, a team that reportedly has mutual interest.
While Westbrook committed to the Oklahoma City Thunder once through some major roster turnover — the loss of Kevin Durant in 2016 to the Golden State Warriors — Wojnarowski wrote that he is not up for a rebuild.
“Westbrook’s affinity for Oklahoma City, the region and fan base has never wavered, but the Thunder’s falling out of contention — sped up by the George trade — makes the idea of playing elsewhere in his 30s feel as though it could be the proper competitive decision, sources said.”
If Russell Westbrook does get traded to the Miami Heat, he could join a rising power in the Eastern Conference. The Heat just acquired All-Star forward/guard Jimmy Butler at the start of free agency, and ESPN reported that team president Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra plan to be aggressive in pursuing other stars.
The Heat would be trying to keep up with other quickly building teams in the East, including the Brooklyn Nets, which just landed Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Westbrook would also give Miami a high-profile star to slide into the place of Dwyane Wade, who retired after the end of the 2018-19 season.
ESPN story on Russell Westbrook welcoming idea of Oklahoma City searching out a trade that would end his Thunder career: https://t.co/EJK30AbAl8— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 8, 2019
Story filed to ESPN: In aftermath of Paul George’s departure, OKC star Russell Westbrook is welcoming to idea of Sam Presti engineering a trade that would bring an end to his illustrious 11-year Thunder tenure. Miami's expressed interest, a destination that appeals to Westbrook.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 8, 2019
It appears that the Oklahoma City Thunder are now actively shopping Russell Westbrook around the league. As CBS Sports reported, the Thunder are receptive to offers for the former MVP, though it could only be a small groups of teams that could actually afford him. Teams that have reportedly expressed interest so far include the Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, and Houston Rockets, though a trade for Houston would reportedly be complicated and another team would likely need to be involved.