Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti will meet this week with Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, to plot out the future for the former MVP. All three were blindsided by Paul George‘s trade request, which was the result of Kawhi Leonard‘s successful lobbying effort to join him on the Clippers.
The Thunder are motivated to move Westbrook, not only because he’s the lone star left in OKC and will make $171MM over the next four years, but also because he plays the same position as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the centerpiece of their return in the George deal.
Miami would like to pair Westbrook with Jimmy Butler and could offer a package built around Goran Dragic, who has one year left on his contract at $19.2MM, and Dion Waiters, who is owed a combined $24.7MM over the next two seasons. Detroit’s offer might include Andre Drummond ($27MM in 2019/20 with a $28.75MM player option the following season), Reggie Jackson (one year left at $18MM) and Tony Snell ($11.39MM next season followed by a $12.18MM player option).
Some executives believe the Rockets could get involved as well, given GM Daryl Morey’s penchant for star chasing. However, pairing Westbrook with James Harden and Chris Paul, two other guards who like to control the ball, may prove awkward, and matching salary wouldn’t be easy. Houston would almost certainly have to part with Clint Capela ($14.9MM next season), Eric Gordon ($14MM), and P.J. Tucker ($8.35MM) in any deal if Paul isn’t included.
Sources with knowledge of Houston’s thinking confirmed to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com that the Rockets have interest in Westbrook. However, one team source described a potential deal as a “long shot,” says MacMahon.
There’s more today on the Westbrook front:
- The Knicks have been mentioned as a possible suitor for Westbrook, but will have to wait until December to make a move, notes Marc Berman of The New York Post. New York no longer has the cap room to absorb Westbrook’s $37.5MM salary for next season after reaching deals with six free agents, and those new players can’t be traded before December 15. If the opportunity is still there, Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock, Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington and Taj Gibson will all have expiring contracts that could interest the Thunder as they try to reduce a league-high tax bill. The Knicks can also offer the 2021 and 2023 first-rounders they acquired from Dallas in the Kristaps Porzingis deal, Berman adds.
- Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated mentions the Timberwolves, Celtics and Magic as other possibilities. A swap with Minnesota would be easy if OKC would accept Andrew Wiggins in return, he states, while the Celtics could offer Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown or wait a year and trade newly acquired Kemba Walker. Orlando has been seeking a point guard for years and has a lot of wings and big men to offer.
- The Bulls, Mavericks, Nuggets, Bucks, Spurs and Raptors all have the assets to get involved as well, according to Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com.