Russell Westbrook prefers to Heat things up – 3 trade options that work for both sides

Jimmy Butler, Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Jimmy Butler, Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Jimmy Butler, Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

With the OKC Thunder fully in rebuild mode, Russell Westbrook is open to a trade preferring to land on a contender. Miami is among his preferences but designing trade packages to benefit both clubs will require some creativity.

It’s crazy how quickly the landscape can change. Entering the weekend the OKC Thunder were focused on bolstering their depth via economic free agent signings. Reliance on the young assets displaying growth was the other emphasis. To be clear, with two superstars on the team signed to max contracts along with Steven Adams hefty contract the Thunder were stuck in a situation without much flexibility.

General Manager, Sam Presti verbalized more than once this offseason how OKC couldn’t afford to be a perennial luxury tax team. Those comments indicated at least one asset would be traded and most eyes focused on Adams, Dennis Schroder, and Andre Roberson as the logical contracts to shift in order for the Thunder to try to lower their salary overhead and remain competitive.

Flash forward to July 6th when the trade of Paul George signaled an abrupt shift into rebuild mode. Although there was still the possibility Presti could pair assets and some of the five draft picks he obtained in the George trade to land another star that perspective quickly changed.

First, came the news a meeting with Russell Westbrook‘s agent confirmed he was willing to move on and then the trade of Jerami Grant on Monday cemented the notion the Thunder are committed to a full-on rebuild.

Although Westbrook is open to moving obviously his desire is to land with a contending team. After demonstrating repeated loyalty to the OKC Thunder that objective feels like a necessity for Sam Presti. Trading George to the Clippers debatably puts him on the team most likely to win the 2020 title. The subsequent Grant trade to the Nuggets also lands him on a contender.

Despite George electing to re-sign last summer, Presti knows OKC isn’t a market free agents are flocking to so it’s equally important for him to trade Westbrook to a contender in order to retain the franchise image of being a cut above in terms of how they treat their players.  To not trade Westbrook to a contender wouldn’t fit the organization’s reputation especially for the player who deserves this respect from the organization.

At issue, is Westbrook’s supermax contract, limited contenders who need a star point guard, several teams who’ve maxed out their future draft picks and few teams with salary cap flexibility. In addition to all those factors, Presti doesn’t have the benefit of secrecy like he did with George. And perhaps the biggest roadblock is the knowledge OKC is desirous of moving Russ which means the GM won’t have the same leverage he did in the George trade.

With that let’s examine a few potential Miami Heat trade packages and how Westbrook would fit in with the Miami Heat.