Oklahoma City has asked the Heat for multiple young, valuable assets in trade conversations involving guard Russell Westbrook, and Miami – at least to this point – has refused, according to a league source briefed on the discussions by one of the teams. OKC has asked the Heat to include impressive rookie guard Tyler Herro in the proposed trade, but the Heat has been very reluctant to do that. Because Herro signed with the Heat on Wednesday, he cannot be included in any trade for 30 days, but that isn’t viewed as an obstacle.
At another point in the discussions this week, the Thunder asked the Heat to include two among Herro, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow, according to a source in touch with one of the two teams. The Heat also is opposed to including Adebayo, whom Erik Spoelstra ranked among the best centers in the league in the final months of last season.
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.
April 19, 2021 | 11:00 am EDT Update
Just like when both Bryant and James won five NBA titles, Clarkson’s main source of motivation points toward collecting championship hardware. Unlike when Bryant and James both won Finals and regular-season MVP awards, Clarkson’s other source of motivation points toward becoming the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. “If we’re winning games and we’re doing that, I’ll be rewarded for that,” Clarkson told USA TODAY Sports. “I feel like this is that time and that moment where I’ve impacted the game.”
“If the Sixth Man of the Year award comes and I don’t get it, I don’t need the validation because my teammates, coaching staff and a lot of my peers gave me that,” Clarkson said. “They’re telling me, ‘I respect what you do’ and all of that. So, I know that goes a long way as well. But it’s definitely something I want to get accomplished one of these years. Hopefully it’s this year.”
So after a regular-season loss in Portland, Bryant chewed out his younger teammates over their attitude, work habits and decision making. “I remember him just really getting upset,” Clarkson said. “You’ve seen him come out of his skin and grill us a little bit. But from that point on, I felt all of us had a different look at everything with what we wanted to do. That’s probably, in terms of development, a little wake-up call.”
“It was difficult, yes, because I would have loved to have stayed with a healthy Markelle (Fultz), and a healthy Jonathan Isaac and a newly blossoming Mo Bamba and a healthy Cole Anthony, but I felt like there was just something telling me I needed to shake things up. It kind of felt like I had one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake out in Orlando. “I was giving it my all, you know? I was giving it my all, and it was difficult, man. I didn’t know if everybody was pushing in the same direction.”
Organizationally, I asked? “Yeah, organizationally, in terms of the plan,” Gordon continued. “I think (Magic front office executives) John Hammond, Jeff Weltman, those guys are amazing people — amazing people, and very talented managers as well. But I feel like they got kind of cast into the revolving door out there as well in Orlando. So many coaches — five coaches in seven years (Jacque Vaughn, James Borrego, Scott Skiles, Frank Vogel and Steve Clifford). And it was kind of a different organization after the passing of Mr. (Rich) DeVos (in September 2018) as well. It was just a lot. A lot of uncertainty, an insecure kind of feeling. But I have no doubt in my mind that John and Jeff are going to get that organization back to where it needs to be.
“This year, we have high, high aspirations — championship aspirations,” Gordon, who clearly didn’t get the memo about those hopes no longer being on the table, told The Athletic. “We still feel like we have enough, especially with ‘Joker’ man. When you’ve got that guy on the floor, you have a chance to win every single night. So everybody’s got to step up, everybody has to play their best. But if we’re doing that, then I feel like we have a good chance to go as far as we want to.”
“He’s a genius, man,” Gordon said of Jokic, who is on track to become just the second player in league history to average at least 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists per game (Oscar Robertson is the other, and he did it just once). “He’s a basketball genius. That’s really what it comes down to. He’s playing it like it’s chess, seeing it three steps ahead. “I’m starting to learn that you’ve always got to keep your eye on him when he has the ball because he’ll find you. He’ll find you. Even if you don’t think you’re open, you’re open. He’ll pass you open, which is dope. It’s just amazing to play with somebody like that who can actually pass you open and sees the game (like that), and who likes to pass and enjoys passing.”
April 19, 2021 | 10:09 am EDT Update
Law Murray: A source confirms that the LA Clippers will not re-sign Malik Fitts to a second 10-day contract ahead of Tuesday’s game in Portland. Expectation is that Yogi Ferrell will take that spot pending health and safety protocols.