Storyline: Russell Westbrook Trade?

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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.

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.”

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:

Of course, it didn’t end there. The Athletic reported late Saturday night that the Pistons and Miami Heat “are very real possibilities” to land Westbrook. My journalistic duties require me to reach out to persons with firsthand knowledge of the situation, and two sources say there is nothing in the works. “Ridiculous,” a league source texted. “Nothing there.” Later in the text exchange, the source asked: “What would be the teams that want him?” he wrote.
4 months ago via ESPN

In the wake of the trade that sent Paul George to the LA Clippers — pairing him with Kawhi Leonard — the biggest question buzzing around both gymnasiums in Las Vegas was an obvious one: What’s going to happen to Russell Westbrook? The thought from any and all people in attendance Sunday was that this story has one ending: Westbrook, the standard-bearer for the franchise throughout its 11 seasons in Oklahoma City, will be traded at some point. The follow-up questions — when such a deal would happen and where it would send him — led to more nuanced discussions.

The showdown concluded Friday night, with the league’s balance of power at stake. The Raptors engaged with Oklahoma City in trade talks, though not at the highest levels. Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook was believed to be interested in playing with Kawhi, but sources say he was never discussed in talks with the Raptors. And even then, the ask for George was astronomical: Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and four unprotected first-round picks, before they even started matching up salaries to account for George’s higher number. Perhaps that would have been where Westbrook came in, but not likely.
4 months ago via ESPN

A source said that Paul would not necessarily need to be involved in a deal that delivers Westbrook to the Rockets, although his $38.5 million salary is a perfect match with Westbrook’s. Paul has $125 million over three years remaining on his contract, while Westbrook has $171 remaining over four years, including a player option for $46.7 million in 2022-23. Morey has acknowledged aggressively exploring the trade market this offseason but said recently that Paul and perennial All-NBA guard James Harden are the two players who will definitely return to the Rockets next season.

Rival executives have also pinpointed the Houston Rockets as a likely suitor, which would come as no surprise considering the way general manager Daryl Morey has prioritized the pursuit of stars during his entire career (not to mention the possible reunion between Westbrook and his old Thunder teammate James Harden). The notion of Westbrook sharing the floor with two other ball-dominant guards is unorthodox, to say the least, but Morey has long held the belief that landing as many elite players as possible is the path to championship glory.

They can trade Westbrook and start over. Finding trade partners for Westbrook after a league-wide free-agent spending frenzy might prove challenging, given the limited cap space available. And his contract — with four years and $171 million remaining — could be an obstacle. Still, Gilgeous-Alexander gives the Thunder an heir apparent at point guard if they opt to move on. The 6-foot-6 former Kentucky guard averaged 10.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists in making the All-Rookie second team. He’ll turn 21 next week. The assumption at Summer League on Friday was that this is the Thunder’s most sensible path, but it’s likely Oklahoma City will explore all three options.
4 months ago via ESPN

Now, like after Kevin Durant’s departure in 2016, all eyes are on Russell Westbrook. Though this time, circumstances are different. The Thunder are comfortable embarking on a rebuild rather than trying to retool. But they will evaluate their options going forward, which include seeing what this team looks like with Westbrook leading the charge alongside Gallinari and Steven Adams, trade current pieces to try and add to the roster, or hit reboot on the roster completely and trade Westbrook. The last option appears to be the most likely scenario.

Despite that being the case, Zach Lowe of stated during a recent edition of his podcast that a number of executives around the league believe that it might be the right time for Sam Presti and the rest of Oklahoma City’s front office to take a hard look at whether or not Westbrook should be part of the puzzle moving forward. “There’s an increasing number of people around the league who think the Thunder should look at trading [Russell] Westbrook. To be clear, not a report. Not Thunder sources think they should do this. Just in spitballing ideas with teams around the league, there’s a number of people who have heard, just like, ‘It’s time for something to change here.'”

The expectation is that the Thunder will meet with Westbrook at the start of free agency and offer him that five-year extension. If he takes it, he’ll solidify himself as the face of the franchise, and the hub around which Presti will try to reconstruct a championship contender. But if Westbrook isn’t willing to commit, it would almost certainly set off a frenzied bidding war for Westbrook’s services — and, in doing so, give Presti the chance he didn’t have with Durant: to get something in return for a departing star.
2 years ago via ESPN

3 years ago via ESPN

Paired with Durant’s exit, a draft-night deal sent fellow franchise “founding father” Serge Ibaka to the Magic in exchange for young guard Victor Oladipo, and now the Thunder were suddenly facing a crossroads. Either Westbrook was going to sign an extension or they were going to trade him and begin a complete teardown and rebuild. As other league executives buzzed about the possibility of Westbrook being available, the Thunder fielded calls but never remotely considered trading their star. They needed an answer first. They knew it would be firm and would be final. No back-channel maneuvering, no fence-straddling. That’s not Westbrook’s style.

Erik Horne: Russell Westbrook shouting out the entire Lakers Hall of Fame when asked about the trade deadline today: On if he keeps up with what’s going on around the league at the deadline: Like I’ve always said, I never worry about the other team. I don’t care if the Lakers got Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem, Kobe, it don’t matter. All my job is to worry about our team, who we got here and we go out and compete. The trade stuff is a part of the game. It’s a part of the NBA. Different guys go to different teams, but our job is to worry about our team. At least that’s my job, is to worry about what’s going on here, how we can improve.

Sources close to the situation say the Thunder’s view on Westbrook is to see what he can do as the single focal point of the team and plan to keep the noise out of the equation until next summer. That’s not to say if the Thunder simply crumble under their own weight that things won’t be re-visited on this front. It’s simply that the Thunder and Westbrook have pledged to give this season a real chance before addressing the future beyond his new contract.

Westbrook has remained mum, but he and the Thunder have been in communication often since Durant’s departure. Plenty want to hear from Westbrook, but he isn’t going to play out his free agency in the public eye. There won’t be any “I’ll make that decision when the time comes” mediaspeak. It’s not hard to gauge him when it comes to public comments; he’s as transparent as they come. And with Durant now gone, Westbrook understands the gravity of his own choice — he leaves, and the organization burns to the ground in a summer. So he wants to give them clarity to either move on with or without him.

OKC could take this thing into the season and see how things look. The Thunder still has an athletic young core that fits around Westbrook nicely. He’s already been in communication with Victor Oladipo, his new backcourt partner. He’s long lauded the toughness and potential of Steven Adams. And there was no louder a public advocate for Enes Kanter’s Sixth Man campaign last season than Westbrook — typically a terrible quote, but not if you ask him about either of his young bigs.

ESPN’s Chris Broussard said Friday that any talk of Boston moving to acquire Westbrook at this point is all speculation, particularly since Celtics general manager/president of basketball operations Danny Ainge “is one of the chief wheelers and dealers in the league.” “On paper, they make sense as a team that could trade for a Blake Griffin or a Russell Westbrook,” Broussard said of the Celtics dealing for either of the two Western Conference stars. “… but at this point Westbrook has not given Oklahoma City any indication that he’s definitely out of there, or that he’s definitely staying.”

The Celtics are up to something. Talk to any front-office executive here at the annual Summer League festivities, and the consensus is that a major deal involving Boston is coming soon. But it might not be the deal most were expecting. While speculation has held that the Celtics would pursue Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook after Kevin Durant left the team to join the Warriors, sources told Sporting News that Westbrook’s representatives have been given no word of a potential deal. Westbrook can become a free agent after the season, so it would be part of the due diligence of the Celtics to find out if he’d be willing to consider staying in Boston long-term.

There should be no question by now that the Celts still believe they need to make changes to their roster before the season begins, and it has been confirmed that they are trying to accomplish this on multiple avenues — to no avail thus far. Sources indicate the Celtics are very much open to major moves, but, while situations certainly remain fluid and they have expressed interest in Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook in the past, there have been no discussions regarding those players in quite some time.

Russell Westbrook going nowhere

I know this: Right now his mindset is on the team they have. Can we add pieces in the short term? Can we go out in free agency? That doesn’t mean he’s not leaving next year, but his attitude isn’t “Aw man, Kevin left, I’m screwed — I gotta get out of here.” I’ve been told Russell has been very determined to lead the team they have — and I know this — Russell really likes the town, he likes bringing in Oladipo, Steven Adams, those are his guys. He thinks they’re a real talented team that, if they can add another significant piece, it puts them right back in contention.
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