Paul George caught everyone by surprise when he demanded a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder. With the All-Star forward already wanting his way out, the Thunder ended up trading him to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and future first-round picks. After losing his only superstar teammate, rumors have started to circulate around Russell Westbrook and his future with the Thunder.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Thunder are now exploring the possibilities of trading Westbrook and undergoing a full-scale rebuild. Despite his massive contract that runs until the 2022-23 NBA season, several NBA teams are expected to express strong interest in Westbrook once he officially becomes available on the trading block.
In their recent article, Sam Amick and Brett Dawson of The Athletic revealed two “real possibilities” to become Russell Westbrook’s next landing spot. These include the Miami Heat and the Detroit Pistons.
“The Heat landed Jimmy Butler via a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia in free agency, and they could conceivably build a package around the likes of Goran Dragic (one year, $19.2 million remaining) and former Thunder guard Dion Waiters (two years, combined $24.7 million) to pair him with Westbrook,” Amick and Dawson said, as quoted by NESN. “The Pistons’ scenario appears to be potentially trickier, with likely candidates to make the salaries match including big man Andre Drummond (two years, $55.8 million combined, including a player option in 2020-21), former Thunder guard Reggie Jackson (one year, $18 million) and Tony Snell (two years, $23.5 million combined, with a player option in 2020-21).”
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
If they are serious about fully dominating the Eastern Conference and contending for the NBA championship, trading for Russell Westbrook makes a lot of sense for both the Heat and the Pistons. Kawhi Leonard may have decided to leave the reigning NBA champions Toronto Raptors, but with the emergence of teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, and the Indiana Pacers, the Eastern Conference is still expected to be highly competitive in the 2019-20 NBA season.
Westbrook would be an incredible addition to the Heat and the Pistons, giving them an All-Star caliber point guard who is also a triple-double machine. 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 percent shooting from beyond the arc. In the potential deal involving Westbrook, the Thunder are expected to demand trade assets that could help them speed up the rebuilding process.
Between the two proposed trade packages by The Athletic‘s Sam Amick and Brett Dawson, the Thunder could be more attracted in the deal that would send them 25-year-old center Andre Drummond. If the Heat are determined to add Russell Westbrook to their roster, they could include young players like Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow and future draft picks in their potential offer to the Thunder.