The Rockets always loom as a threat when stars become available on the market and the Russell Westbrook sweepstakes are no different.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (video link) hears that Houston is attempting to slip into negotiations with Oklahoma City, focusing on the possibility of a three-team trade. It’s unclear which players the Rockets would offer up in such a scenario, though I’d speculate sending Chris Paul elsewhere is the angle. Houston could swap Paul and Westbrook easily, as they both make $38.5M, though the rebuilding Thunder don’t appear to be a fit for Paul. Finding that third team would likely be necessary if in that type of deal.
The Heat appear to be the frontrunner to land Westbrook and the eight-time All-Star has reportedly placed Miami atop the shortlist he gave team’s front office, as Windhorst notes. Still, the two sides have barriers to overcome if they are going to come to an agreement on a trade. Miami is hard-capped, meaning the franchise cannot take back any additional salary in any trade. The team also lacks the ability to trade away a first-rounder until the 2025 season, having already dealt away its two future picks (OKC owns Miami’s unprotected 2021 and lottery unprotected 2023 selections).
Here’s more surrounding Westbrook and the Thunder:
- Will the Bulls get involved in the Westbrook sweepstakes? It doesn’t sound like it. “When you look at the financial aspect of a player that’s 30 going out four years and the amount of money that’s going to be made, those things can tie your hands up and put your organization in a tough position,” VP John Paxson said without mentioning Westbrook directly (via Mark Strotman of NBC Chicago). “You want the superstars. You want to do what the Clippers are doing and the Lakers are doing, but we’re realistic right now. We’re not in that position. We hope that in a couple years with the development of these young guys, players around the league view us as a destination point where they can win at the highest level.”
- The 22% stake in the Thunder organization owned by the late Audrey McClendon is up for sale, Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg reports. The franchise is worth approximately $1.5 billion, according to the latest Forbes report. Oklahoma City has sold out 355 games in a row, which is the third-longest active streak in the league.
- Dan Devine of The Ringer breaks down the possible destinations from Westbrook but struggles to find a new home for the point guard. Still, the scribe contends that there will be a team willing to trade for him before training camp starts.