NBA Trade Rumors: 'Insiders' Favor Heat to Land Thunder's Russell Westbrook

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2019

Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook (0) in action during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

NBA insiders view the Miami Heat as the "most likely landing spot" for Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, according to ESPN's Tim Bontemps.

Bontemps added that the widespread belief within league circles is the 2017 MVP will be traded at some point.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Saturday that Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, are "engaged" with OKC general manager Sam Presti about the longtime Thunder star's future following the Paul George trade. Wojnarowski (h/t Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald) noted the Heat "are a team to watch" in the Westbrook sweepstakes.

Per Jackson, Miami is close to the hard cap of $138.9 million following a sign-and-trade for four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler, who is expected to sign a four-year, $142 million deal.

At this point in the offseason, OKC will not have a full market to work with should it explore a trade. Some teams may be incapable of moving certain contracts (recently signed free agents) during the summer because of the collective bargaining agreement, while others may not have the necessary assets.

Since being drafted fourth overall in 2008, Westbrook has spent his entire 11-year career in Oklahoma City. He has helped guide the Thunder to a sustained run of success, which has seen the team miss the postseason just once in the last decade.

With Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Serge Ibaka, OKC reached the NBA Finals in 2012 before falling to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in five games.

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During his MVP campaign, Westbrook became the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 to average a triple-double for an entire season. He has since become the first player to ever accomplish the feat in three consecutive seasons.

As star teammates have come and gone, Westbrook has remained loyal to OKC. However, per Wojnarowski, the two sides "understand" it may be time to go their separate ways.

The 30-year-old Westbrook has at least three years and $124.1 million remaining on his contract, with a fourth-year player option worth $47 million in 2022-23.

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