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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.
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January 21, 2021 | 12:06 pm EST Update
Duane Rankin: Memphis next 3 games – 1-22 at Blazers 1-24/25 vs. Kings – have been postponed in accordance with #NBA health/safety protocols. They’re being postponed due to unavailable players for Grizzlies, contact tracing for other players on roster and to ensure health/safety of both teams
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA is erring on the side of caution with what still appears to be isolated COVID-19 exposure within the Grizzlies, sources tell ESPN. These postponements aren’t a result of several individuals being placed into the league’s Health and Safety protocol.
Chris Herrington: Per league source, the Grizzlies have one (and only one) active positive case. The rest of this postponement is due to contact tracing/caution. My sense is it’s another reflection of the league further tightening its protocols.
January 21, 2021 | 10:39 am EST Update
While the Nets starters tired and Harden, Irving and Durant played the final 18:45 together, Brooklyn’s best on-ball defender, Bruce Brown, sat on the bench. Brown’s 6-2 frame made for an ideal matchup to potentially cool down Sexton, who is 6-1, but after seeing the reserves struggle in the second quarter, Nash elected to tighten his rotations and play just nine all game. After the game, Brooklyn’s stars said Sexton hit a lot of difficult shots on them and his performance isn’t a total reflection of the defense. “He made some tough shots,” Harden said. “And if he missed those shots, is it good defense? No, he made some tough shots, everybody’s tired at that point, and I think we did enough, especially in the fourth quarter and first overtime. I don’t know how many points he had in that second overtime, but I think he had the majority of them. Chalk your hat up to him.”
Irving said his time in Cleveland with LeBron James and Kevin Love taught him that resolve, compromise and sacrifice was necessary for the Cavaliers to win at a high level. Irving thinks the same can happen in Brooklyn with his new star-studded team. Like his last one, it isn’t going to happen immediately. “We’ll have good nights, we’ll have great nights, but it’s how we galvanize as a group together,” Irving said. “It’s how we sacrifice and compromise for the greater good. And that still remains to be seen. Obviously, one game is out of the way, but I’m excited for what’s to come.”
His teammates have noticed a difference in him, too. Osman has noted the advancements in Sexton’s game from his rookie year to now. Sexton is competitive on the defensive end of the floor, he’s making the extra pass and his assists this season are up to 3.7 per game. “Obviously, last year he was better, and this year he’s even better,” Osman said. “He made like 14 or 15 points in a row, and then there was good defense on him, but then he found TP (new Cavalier Taurean Prince) in the corner for a 3-point shot that was wide open. That was a beautiful play from Collin. He could have taken that one too but saw TP was open, and that was the right play, so he made the right play. You can see from his first year until now — he’s just getting better every day.”