Woj: Heat “Team To Watch” For Russell Westbrook

The Heat are a “team to watch” in the Russell Westbrook situation, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said today during the network’s broadcast of a Summer League game (video clip).

“Russell Westbrook at 30 years old is still a high-level player, but it is a lot of money and he’s going to take up a great deal of your salary cap,” said Wojnarowski, who predicts Miami will be among several to talk to the Thunder about Westbrook’s availability.

A source confirms to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald that Heat officials “absolutely like” Westbrook, but there’s no indication of how hard they plan to pursue him (Twitter link). He adds that the Thunder own Miami’s first-round pick in 2021 and don’t have any incentive to help the Heat.

Westbrook’s availability was made public in the wake of the surprising overnight trade that sent teammate Paul George to the Clippers to team up with Kawhi Leonard. Westbrook will make $170MM over the next four seasons and the Thunder are interested in cutting costs now that they longer have two stars in place.

There’s more today from Miami:

  • New Heat center Meyers Leonard told Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel that he has gotten over the shock of being traded from the Trail Blazers. Leonard said he was in the middle of a workout when his trainer told him to call his agent after seeing a tweet from Wojnarowski about the deal. “There are numerous things I’m excited for — the culture, the kind of get-in-there-and-work-hard grit mentality,” Leonard said. “I can only say I’m very, very excited for this opportunity, to help the Heat win.”
  • The Heat are risking their ability to surround Butler with more talent in the future with today’s decision to stretch the $15.6MM still owed to Ryan Anderson, Winderman notes in a separate story. They had to cut salary before they could accommodate Butler’s new contract, but the deal will keep Anderson on the payroll for three more years at $5.2MM per season.
  • The Heat expect rookie forward KZ Okpala to make his Summer League debut tomorrow, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. With the moratorium lifted, the 32nd pick in the draft officially traveled the circuitous route that took him from the Pacers to the Suns to the Heat. “The process has been different,” Okpala said of the long wait. “It’s not what I expected, for sure. But I think it’s just all a part of the process. You just have to control the things you can control.”
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53 thoughts on “Woj: Heat “Team To Watch” For Russell Westbrook

  1. shawn hemp

    Why would they trade for 2 of their next 3 years picks and then trade Russ to them. I thought presti was smart

    • hiflew

      Exactly. The last thing the Thunder should want to do is make the Heat a championship contender. Especially since that 2021 pick is 100% unprotected.

    • stretch123

      True but the Heat don’t exactly lose… now that we have Jimmy Butler, good chance we finish in the top 6 in East for years to come… even minus Butler, we were consistently a 6-8 seeded playoff team… Heat have some young players like Winslow and Bam that could be good for their future. Minnesota won’t give up Okogie. Who else can they trade him to? Not many teams I can think of. Unless OKC wants Ntiklina and Knox or a package of Fultz and Mo Bamba LOL.

      • stretch123

        With Butler we are a 5th/6th seed right now. With Westbrook we’d be a 2nd or 3rd seed. In others words, the picks will be high 20s to mid 20s, regardless of if Westbrook is on the Heat or not. Not much of a difference in talent after the lottery.

        • hiflew

          You just kinda defended the point of not trading Westbrook. Butler moves the needle, but not much. Instead of a 9/10 seed in the East, you might sneak in as 6/7. So instead of a low lotto pick, you could get a mid teens pick. But with Westbrook added, they probably are a 2-3 seed, if not better. You not only would have to take back salary from the Heat and not get any additional picks, but the picks you already have would drop about 10 spots.

          • afsooner02

            EXACTLY!!! Unless you’re getting more picks….which I’m not sure the heat have many of, I don’t see how this makes ANY sense.

          • stretch123

            Heat will be a 5th or 6th seed this year. Jimmy Butler is a top 15 player in the NBA and can single handedly take the Heat to a 5th seed. Like I said, the difference between a 20th pick (with Butler) and a 25th or 26th pick (in the case Heat get Westbrook and finish as a 2 or 3 seed) is not much. It’s pretty much close to the same value. Unless OKC wants to trade Westbrook to the Pistons, sure they can possibly acquire guys like Kennard and Drummond and maybe Dombouya. Or Wiggins and Okogie from Minnesota, and insist on draft picks, but they do have about 10 1st round picks within the next 5 years. You can only have so many draft picks and at some point you need good young talent. Minnesota and Detroit do not have the young talent Miami does. Proven young talent. Yes Okogie is nice, and he’s Kennard is nice, but acquiring a package of let’s say, Winslow, Bam, Derrick Jones Jr and Dragic gives them three young, cheap, solid above average role players to pair with Gilegous-Alexander for at least the next 4-5 seasons while drafting whoever with their lottery picks during the 2020-2022 seasons, players with higher ceilings… By 2023 then, I think they can be contenders again and they’ll have a nice supporting cast, as well as cap space. Yes draft picks are nice, but you need good young players too. Miami will be the only team willing to part with those type of guys.

  2. stretch123

    Dragic, Winslow, Bam and Derrick Jones Jr, James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk, two or three future picks for Westbrook and Steven Adams. Almost ensures OKC finishes with a top 5 pick in the draft for the next two or three seasons. While getting three solid young players in Winslow, Bam and DJJ. Can flip olynyk and James Johnson to a contender for more picks and maybe Dragic by mid season.

    • whoneedsfacts

      They are paying the tax, they are going to want cap relief and outbid the tax with any team as they won’t want to spend crazy tax money on a lottery team. Also the East is getting better and Butler wasn’t even an All day this past year, w/o a star the heat could end up being a literally team gt 21

    • KnicksFanCavsFan

      Ohhh…… Nothing more exciting them young, sold role players on a non-contender.

  3. goldenmisfit

    Here is the problem if you’re Miami, if you are able to acquire Westbrook and you have butler two guys on a roster that is playoff bubble would take up almost 90% of your salary cap not much money to balance out the roster left if you have both of those guys on the roster.

  4. kingcong95

    That is one nasty contract. Miami should not do this without getting one of their own picks back.

    • afsooner02

      Bwhahahaha…..yea…no. You want Russ and a first rounder back? Lol….nice one.

  5. Alexanderk02

    What about a three-team trade sending Westbrook to the heat, Beal to the thunder, and Winslow, Herro, and picks to the wizards. Allows the heat to get Westbrook, thunder can keep shai at pg with Beal at the two, and Washington can prepare for the future while balancing out their roster.

  6. RW may still be a “high level” player, but he’s no longer elite, and, in any event, we’re talking about the next four years (ages 31-34 seasons) not the past one. I can’t see any team taking that contract and also providing anything of value to OKC. If Miami is up to it, for expiring deals, OKC should jump on it. If I’m Miami, I at least want my picks back for the privilege.

    • KnicksFanCavsFan

      How is he not still elite? He was always a low percentage shooter but he had another triple dozen season. I’m not fond of his style of play but I wouldn’t say he’s not the same player as years before in terms of what you expect him to do.

      • I would. So would every metric that exists. Although metrics aren’t really needed if you watched him through the last 3 seasons. He’s declined year over year in each of the last two years. The biggest decline is defensively, where he was once elite, and now baseline. Look at the trend lines for PER, TS-% (barely at 50%, from mid-50’s)and RPM. These things don’t decline to 30 years old, and then reverse themselves into your 30’s – in fact, they accelerate. Even Mills (a devout Isiah-ite) isn’t dumb enough to try and catch this falling knife.

    • whoneedsfacts

      Dude he is like a few months older than Jimmy Butler? Like do you have any clue what your talking about, and Jimmy’s body is worse off than Russ’s.

      • KnicksFanCavsFan

        Dude who cares about Westbrook’s age when he’s an elite athlete. Dingy let ageism warp your mind. Yes, feet time is undefeated but you can’t assume when the decline is going to happen.

      • Yes, I do. But a low IQ type like yourself isn’t worth trying to explain anything to. Maybe you can understand this: If he’s worth his contract for the next 4 years, why would the Thunder ever think about trading him? A rebuild in their case shouldn’t take close to 4 years.

        • KnicksFanCavsFan

          @DXC Not sure who the low IQ is directed to but an OKC team that’s now over the cap and just lost PG may have done to Russ to gauge his level of interest in staying in OKC given that the team is no where near competing in the west right now without PG and the new super teams in LA and still some very good teams left in the WC. Clearly, Westbrook is in his prime and just as Houston is willing to take what a 34 yo Paul can give as long as they have other stars around him the same can be said about Russ. Yes, he is 21 yo but he still plays at a high level. If OKC thinks it may be too difficult to surround Russ with another star so they have a real chance of competing with 2 super teams in LA, the return of another super team in GSW and a bunch of teams that aren’t “:super” but obviously better then maybe a change for both is needed. What it DOESN’T mean is that they see Westbrook falling off a cliff because he’s 31, regardless of what defensive metrics might infer. News flash…a lot of tremendous stars don’t play great defense. Yet, teams still lineup to pay them.

          • formerlyz

            Also Westbrook is still a really, really good defender. He just gambles slightly too often

  7. Seamaholic

    Would be awfully tough for MIA. They’re hard capped and only $2m below right now. And OKC is also a lux tax team that won’t want to take any more money back (it costs them way more because of the tax). I guess MIA could find a combination of 3 or 4 players that come to exactly Russ’ salary, but that leaves them with 11 players, only about 6 of whom have ever played real minutes in the NBA, and a few million dollars NO EXCEPTIONS to fill out the roster. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. Don’t see any way.

    • Scott

      I think you’d need to include Atlanta and have them take back a contract into their cap space with a 1st rounder as a sweetener. It would be difficult because the 1st would need to be from Miami, which they gave up in the Butler deal. I’m sure OKC would want more picks as well.

      I think OKC is better off waiting until the trade deadline when other teams can get involved, like the Knicks and the Suns.

      • Seamaholic

        There are other teams much better situated to trade for Russ. Twolves come to mind.

  8. Marlins#1

    Heat trade winslow, dragic, olynik, make 2023 draft pick unprotected, 2025 and 2027 draft picks. Thunder trade westbrook. Rather trade james jones but im sure they rather have olynik. No sense for heat to trade herro or bam since they would be in win now mode and need a center and a 3pt shoter since westbrook cant hit 3s

  9. Jason Lancaster

    Detroit seems far more likely than Miami to make a good bid for Westbrook. Miami’s best offer is probably Dragic (expiring that might take a buyout), Waiters or Winslow (both solid rotation guys that OKC might be able to trade to a 3rd team), and Bam (nice young player). That’s not a bad haul for Westbrook, but it doesn’t save OKC much money this season.

    Detroit can offer Jackson (expiring), Snell (rotation shooter that they might be able to trade to a 3rd team), and either Kennard (young guy that is on a rookie scale deal for 2 more years and already a solid rotation player) or Doumbouya (exciting rookie). Detroit can also offer picks – they control all their own future firsts.

    Importantly, Detroit’s deal saves at least $5 million in salary + another $12.5 million in luxury tax payments.

    Detroit is going to have to let Drummond leave next summer (assuming he opts out), but for a year they’d have a strong team in what’s looking like a weaker Eastern conference. Why not?

    • Eric Lord

      Jackson burned a lot of bridges when he was in OKC. There is no way that the Thunder take him back

      • L Lawliet

        That is the only reason i think they wont. But they could offer Drummond instead and trade jackson for a center.

        • Eric Lord

          I don’t see the Thunder taking Jackson even to buy him out. Also, the Thunder don’t need a point guard if they trade Russ. They have SGA & Shroder. They need a shooting guard more.

          • L Lawliet

            Thunder get Drummond, E Gordan, PJ tucker, l. Galloway, (luck kennard only if it gets the trade done and they insist. Pistons 2022 1 rd pick 2nd rd pick any year.

            Rockets get S. ADAMS, Reggie Jackson, and K Thomas. 2020 pistons 1 rd pick.

            Pistons get westbrook, and capela.

            Works in trade machine, think it makes all teams satisfied

    • L Lawliet

      Yes, I think either Minnesota or Detroit have the most realistic tradr options for him at this point in the season. Miami fans are dreaming and Woj is stiring more false media buzz. No way they trade RW to miami without getting any picks in return. Furthermore they will surely weaken the miami picks they possess. If i am detroit I trade for Russell. They will not score this big in free agency in the next 4 years and pairing russell with blake makes them a top 4 team in the east and an east finals contender.

  10. formerlyz

    If anything, it’s the protected 2023 pick that is most interesting b/c it becomes unprotected. Obviously that’s a long way away, but I think that has a better chance of being a great pick than the 2021 unprotected pick anyway. They could also remove the protection on that pick.

    I dont feel like we have enough shooting if they give up Dragic, and we’d be hard capped, and wouldnt be able to add anyone. Also, who plays the 4 behind Winslow? I feel like they’d have to keep Dragic if they were able to somehow land Westbrook.

    Waiters, James Johnson, Myers Leonard’s expiring contract matches up perfectly for Westbrook salary wise. Heat would have to give up picks, probably remove the 2023 protection, the 2025 pick, and maybe rights to swap 1-2 of the years in between to OkC, but that would be an amazing scenario. OKC clears salary in that scenario, and if they stay healthy, they may be able to trade those other guys as expiring deals next offseason, or even use some of the assets they have to go get someone like Bradley Beal. Before they stretched Anderson, they could have included him if OKC would want to clear more salary immediately, but I think they needed to make that move before the Butler deal became official. I seriously doubt the Heat could pull off a Westbrook deal, but I also cant put anything past Pat Riley. It would just be shocking to me

    It’s tough to find a fit for him b/c of the current landscape. GS would have been perfect before the D’Angelo Russell trade. Could have maybe been some sort of 4 team deal in that scenario…I could see Portland, Dallas, supernoutside the box, but Cleveland feels like it works…I’d have to think a little more to see more fits

    • Eric Lord

      That trade matches up salary wise, but it really doesn’t help the Thunder at all other than cap space. James Johnson isn’t playing ahead of Grant or Gallinari. He isn’t needed. The Thunder already have Adams & Noel at center and don’t need Leonard at all. Waiters is the only one in that trade who remotely fits. Then add the fact that the Thunder own two of the Heat’s first round picks, that trade is a flat out no form the Thunder standpoint.

      • formerlyz

        I also mentioned the idea of flipping the shorter contracts, b/c they’re apparently trying to save money. Also, depending on who stays, I could easily see all 3 guys contributing, assuming health. Heat could throw in Derrick Jones if they have to as well. I dont see any of the other offers being mentioned producing anyone that would necessarily move in front of others in their rotation.

  11. Z-A

    pretty sure someone told me in comments that I was wrong to think the heat were a player for Westbrook so… this article is 100% wrong

  12. formerlyz

    The other thing is that I’m not so sure the Paul George trade, or even necessarily a Russell Westbrook trade (depending on what comes back in that) kills them next year though. Obviously, Paul George was a legit MVP candidate last year, and they lose offensively, but I dont think it hurts them that much on defense, with the roster they have, and they did add a need for shooting with Gallinari at the 4 spot. If any of their young wings gives them anything offensively, they might actually be similar or slightly better, theoretically, although even if they take a step back, they’ll be super set up to do a lot over the next 2 years, or even as soon as during the season, and as I mentioned, I wouldnt be shocked to see them end up with Bradley Beal or other opportunistic additions with their assets and short term deals, with or without Westbrook

    I also think taking back shorter deals gives them more flexibility to clear salary quicker, in trades, if that’s as big of a need, and at least cuts future salary, while moving Westbrook’s 4 year deal, giving them a chance to start over, if that’s how they decide to go

  13. jeb39999

    Would Russell Westbrook to the Lakers for Kyle Kuzma makes sense at all?

  14. weaselpuppy

    Last Piston rumor from Detroit media was Jackson, Snell, Doumbouya plus 20 and 22 1st rd picks. Maybe a good enough 2019-20 convinces Drummond to not oot out after the season and they get 2 runs at it with Russ, Blake and Andre.

  15. rycm131

    I could see Toronto or the knicks doing the deal for various reasons

  16. x%sure

    I think if OKC could get RW to play 2G this coming year his trade value would increase.
    If RW can beat the opponent to the rim coming downcourt like he likes to do and is great at, fine, but otherwise SGA is the PG.

    Other teams would be more comfortable with acquiring him if he can show adjustability and greater capacity for following a team-oriented plan.

    This might all happen naturally simply by SGA being the other guard. If he was instructed to take over he might be able to pull it off on his own. After all RW is unlikely to be motivated to be more tradable!

    Anyway keeping him for a year might work out fine.

    • x%sure

      Give SGA a chance to handle this. Be nice if he was older but I have been a fan of him partly due to intangibles.

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