Russell Westbrook appears on the move from the only team for which he’s ever played, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The star point guard who won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award in 2017 has reportedly reached an understanding with the team that they’re going to explore a trade for him, per ESPN, and Westbrook seemingly likes the idea of going to the Miami Heat.
In addition to Miami, the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets have been mentioned as possible Westbrook destinations. But one NBA writer is making the case for Westbrook to go to another team: the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Haley O’Shaughnessy of The Ringer wrote Tuesday morning that “Minnesota [breathe in, Wolves fans] needs to take a long look [breathe out, Wolves fans] at trading for Westbrook.”
Why the Timberwolves? According to O’Shaughnessy, the team rarely gets a chance at adding superstar-level talent. The Timberwolves don’t have much salary cap flexibility as it is, and Westbrook would give them a better chance at winning than their current roster does. In addition, “the pick-and-roll (and pick-and-pop) possibilities with Westbrook and Towns are fun to imagine.”
The Ringer piece did not assemble a trade package that would go back to Oklahoma City for Westbrook but did mention several players, such as Andrew Wiggins, Josh Okogie, Jeff Teague, recent first-round draft pick Jarrett Culver, and Robert Covington. Another reason for Minnesota to do the trade would be the change to get rid of Wiggins’ contract, which has nearly $50 million less remaining on it than Westbrook’s does, although Wiggins is many years younger.
Another NBA writer Tuesday made a similar argument that Minnesota should trade for Westbrook. Tom Ziller of SB Nation wrote Tuesday that “the Timberwolves should trade for Russell Westbrook, like, right now.”
In his piece, Ziller argues that the two teams should swap Westbrook for Wiggins.
With NBA Free Agency seeming to dominate the summer months, it’s worth taking a look at some of the league’s worst contracts. Wiggins? Westbrook? More: https://t.co/Io69jR76Db— Scoop Sports (@_Scoop_Sports_) July 8, 2019
“Why wouldn’t the Timberwolves try to get Westbrook for Wiggins?” Ziller writes. “Don’t tell me Westbrook would damage Karl-Anthony Towns’ growth — Kevin Durant won an MVP next to Russ, and Paul George just finished third. Towns needs help getting back to the playoffs, and Minnesota stands a much better chance with Westbrook than Wiggins.”
As for the Oklahoma City side of the deal, Ziller says that it would save the Thunder $12 million a year in salary, get them out of the luxury tax, and help along the Thunder’s rebuild, both in terms of better lottery position for themselves and in order to get various draft picks from other teams with protections to convey.