I think Miami is the only place that makes any sense. Not from a basketball standpoint -- I don't like the fit of Westbrook and Jimmy Butler together -- but the Heat are one of the few teams willing to take on both Westbrook's money and his personality. In fact, Miami could be the only one. It would make for a fascinating story on several levels. People around the league consider it an inevitability that he will wind up there at this point, too.
Winderman spoke to radio host Kevin Rogers during an episode of the “WQAM Evenings Reporter’s Show” regarding the possibility of the Heat acquiring the Thunder point guard. “I think he’s coming,” Winderman said. “Every time there’s been a Heat rumor of any subsequence or consequence that’s lingered this long, the Heat have wound up getting the player. It’s not about free agency where they’re one of six people in the room with Kevin Durant, one of three people in the room with Gordon Hayward. But it seems like, ‘Ah the Heat’s gonna get Jimmy Butler,’ then they got Jimmy Butler. The Heat’s gonna make a trade or get this player, the Heat get that player. Yeah I think we’re very much trending in that direction.”
Regardless, Westbrook is open to a deal and seems to like the idea of winding up in Miami. If previous reports and rumors weren’t enough proof, as Bleacher Report revealed, Westbrook liked a photo of him wearing a Heat jersey.
Miami and Westbrook have reportedly shared mutual interest, similarly to how the Heat were able to capitalize on Jimmy Butler’s interest in coming to South Beach. The trouble with executing any sort of deal in this case, however, rests in the financials of both teams. As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports, the Thunder are hoping to get out of the luxury tax, but the Heat do not have the ability to take on added salary because of the sing-and-trade that they executed to get Butler:
The Heat and Thunder have been discussing potential combinations of players, and those specifics remain unknown. But indications are the Heat would prefer not to include Bam Adebayo or Herro. This trade would be highly appealing to the Heat if Miami can merely shed contracts of players not in its longterm plans, but it’s questionable if the Thunder would go for that.
Miami acquired All-Star guard Jimmy Butler in a four-way sign-and-trade at the start of free agency. President Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra continue to be aggressive in pursuing star-level veteran talent without the benefit of salary cap space or many coveted future assets to peddle in deals.
Adrian Wojnarowski: 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.
As Oklahoma City seriously considers trading eight-time All-Star Russell Westbrook, Miami has conveyed interest, according to multiple league sources.
His elite skills and relentless competitiveness fit what the Heat wants in a player, as one person who has spoken to the Heat said.
Westbrook has a massive contract, with four years and $170 million remaining. He also has a game built upon athleticism and will turn 31 in November. That combination, along with a strong personality, is why the prevailing opinion among insiders is that the Miami Heat are the most likely landing spot.
Russell Westbrook remains a longshot for any team beyond the Thunder. And for those inside the organization to again express conviction that a legitimate run can be made for the top name in free agency only furthers the all-or-nothing feel when it comes to rebuilding from the Big Three era. Sometimes (actually, most of the time) rebuilds are incremental.
Ira Winderman: For trade purposes, Westbrook to earn $18 million this season in final year of contract. So teams could be looking at a rental.
January 31, 2023 | 4:33 am EST Update
Sacramento is said to be monitoring the availability of Philadelphia’s Matisse Thybulle as the Kings, unexpectedly holding the West’s No. 3 seed after a league-record 16 consecutive seasons out of the playoffs, ponder the pursuit of a more defensive-minded option on the perimeter.
As Kyrie Irving’s agent and stepmother Shetellia Riley Irving told my podcast partner Chris Haynes in a Bleacher Report story last week, Irving hopes to sign a contract extension with the Nets — but substantive talks between the sides have yet to begin. Some league observers have posited that this could be by design on Brooklyn’s part, with the Nets apparently convinced that they are under no pressure to move swiftly on the extension front when Irving would likely need their help via sign-and-trade to relocate in the offseason to any other team he likes.
Teams like the Los Angeles Clippers would like to improve at that position, with John Wall apparently available. The Orlando Magic have eyes on a quality veteran like VanVleet, per sources. The Dallas Mavericks are still looking for a Jalen Brunson replacement. The Washington Wizards don’t have a true answer at the point.
The Lakers are fighting to climb into the top 10 in the Western Conference. While coach Darvin Ham has found a viable role for Westbrook off the bench, the franchise does have concerns about his playoff viability, per multiple sources.
Despite changes at the very top, the team is expected to make more significant changes after the season, but sources say the team has come to terms with the likelihood that Paul is starting to decline (38 years old in May). Even if he can bring it for another postseason, the Suns need to find a long-term replacement.