All signs point to Russell Westbrook being traded to the Miami Heat, but there are a few aspects that make the deal complicated. ESPN’s Tim Bontemps reported that people around the league view Westbrook being traded to the Heat as an “inevitability.”
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.
The challenge is the Thunder want to avoid paying the luxury tax, so they would need to take back less salary than Westbrook’s contract, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Miami does not have salary cap room so would need a third team to get involved if Oklahoma City sticks to their demand.
“Russell Westbrook would like to play in Miami if [he is not going to stay] in Oklahoma City and the Heat would like to have him,” Windhorst noted on Sportscenter. “So what’s the delay here? The delay is the Thunder have made it clear to any team they are talking to right now that they want to get out of the luxury tax with the Russell Westbrook trade…The Heat are hard-capped because of the Jimmy Butler trade. They can’t spend more money. They can’t do a trade like that. So, it requires either the Thunder to reduce their expectations from the Heat or for a third team to get involved that would take a contract to make this possible to satisfy both parties. I do think there is a deal to be made here. I just think that it is going to take some time for one or the other side to maybe blink a little bit.”
Russell Westbrook Reportedly Wanted Out of OKC Before the Paul George Trade
ESPN’s Marc Spears reported that he heard prior to the Paul George trade that Westbrook wanted out of Oklahoma City. Now, it seems clear that the question is not if, but when the Thunder will trade Westbrook.
“I heard that he wanted out, and that PG [Paul George] just beat him to the punch,” Spears explained on The Jump. “And neither one of them knew that the other one was thinking that way.”
The Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman reported that he expects the Heat to eventually get a deal done for Westbrook. Winderman cited a similarity to the Jimmy Butler rumors prior to his signing.
“I think he’s coming,” Winderman said, per Heat Nation. “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.”