Heat Named Desired Landing Spot By 9-Time All-Star

Russell Westbrook

Getty Russell Westbrook is rumored to be interested in playing for the Heat.

Could Russell Westbrook be heading to play for the Miami Heat?

The 34-year-old point guard was at the center of one of the NBA’s biggest three-way trades of the year. The Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves sent D’Angelo Russell to Los Angeles, Westbrook and draft compensation to Utah and Mike Conley Jr. to Minnesota.

ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Westbrook and his agent were set to have discussions with the Jazz about a potential buyout. If the remainder of his contract is bought out, Westbrook will hit the open market and will be free to sign with any interested team.

The Athletic’s Law Murray reported on February 9 that should Westbrook become a free agent, he would be interested in playing for two teams specifically: The Los Angeles Clippers and the Heat.

Westbrook’s Buyout From Jazz Is ‘Expected,’ Per Murray

“A league source who was granted anonymity so that he could speak freely tells The Athletic that Russell Westbrook would have interest in joining the Clippers or the Miami Heat in the event of an expected buyout by the Jazz, who traded for him Wednesday,” Murray wrote.

A nine-time All-Star, Westbrook has been hampered by a foot injury in recent months, and he’s nowhere near the same player he was named league MVP after the 2016-17 season. He has played in 52 games this year, starting three, and he’s averaging 15.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.0 steals in 28.7 minutes a game (stats courtesy of Basketball Reference).

Westbrook may not be the point-scorer he once was (he averaged 31.6 points a game back when he won MVP), but he could still provide teams in need of depth at the point with some solid minutes.

The Heat already have one aging point guard on the roster, though.

Kyle Lowry’s Presence Complicates Things

The presence of 36-year-old starting point guard Kyle Lowry, who didn’t get traded despite Miami’s best efforts to unload him, could make adding Westbrook far more difficult. Lowry is due over $28 million this season, and Miami won’t want to shell out major money for another point guard past his prime.

That said, Westbrook would be much better coming off the bench than Miami’s current backup point guard, Gabe Vincent.

“If the Heat move on from Kyle Lowry, then, yes, that could make sense,” Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel wrote about Miami potentially signing Westbrook, adding: “We also might need a better read on where Victor Oladipo stands, considering his recent dropoff. So if you are weighing going with Gabe Vincent as your starter and perhaps Jamaree Bouyea listed as his primary backup, then how can you not consider Russell Westbrook at a low-cost buyout rental for the remainder of the season? Of course, you also have to balance that with chemistry in the locker room.”

While it’s certainly notable that Westbrook put the Heat on his short list of desired landing spots, he may be a better fit in L.A., or perhaps even in Chicago with the point guard-needy Bulls, who are also rumored to be interested.

Still, it’s a situation that bears monitoring.