A report surfaced today that Russell Westbrook’s name has hit the trade market. OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti clearly wants to rebuild the team moving forward by dealing Paul George to the Clippers for Shai Gilgous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and a group of future first and second round picks. There was a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Thunder had proposed dealing both Paul George and Russell Westbrook to the Toronto Raptors for Pascal Siakam and future draft picks. That never materialized. Westbrook comes with his own good luggage and heavy baggage. Let’s first check-in the good luggage or in airport terminology: the carry-on bags. Russ is fearless in his attack at the rim, he’s got an insatiable desire to win ball games, he’s a tenacious defender, and he essentially has averaged a triple double the past 3-4 seasons. He’s also one of the hardest working guys in the gym. Now, let’s look at the heavy baggage and see how expensive it gets. Westbrook has 4 years $40 million left on his contract, he’s known for being selfish on a frequent basis, he’s a liability from beyond the arc, he’s had struggles at the free throw line (shooting at one point last season around 60%), and for a guard who’s fouled frequently, that doesn’t bode well for anyone. He also can be difficult to both have as a teammate and to coach as Kevin Durant and Paul George have found out the hard way. He plays more like Allen Iverson, and doesn’t really seem to desire a co-star beside him to help him get rings. If GM Sam Presti really is pushing the reset/rebuild button, then who is likely to take him? I have five teams that I think if Presti calls them, they will at least make an offer for his
(1) Miami Heat
The Heat this offseason parted ways with expensive and offensive liable center Hassan Whiteside by trading him to Portland. They perform a sign and trade with the Philadelphia 76ers and essentially flip Josh Richardson for Jimmy Butler. GM Pat Riley has been trying to move 32-year-old PG Goran Dragic and the one year he has left on his contract. Could this backcourt duo of potentially Westbrook and Butler work in South Beach? Both players play
relentless on both sides of the ball, but I’m not sure their personalities would gel come locker room time. This seems the most likely destination if he is moved before the season starts.
(2) Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets were one of the younger teams in the league last year witha fun to watch squad of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, veteran Paul Milsap, sharpshooter Gary Harris and a decent
bench. Come playoffs, they struggled against the Blazers ultimately losing to them in the Western Conference Semifinals. Westbrook would be an automatic upgrade from Jamal
Murray in playmaking and defense. However, the Nuggets would give up 3-point shooting in Murray and I’m not sure that Coach Mike Malone and Westbrook would have smooth sailing
in their relationship.
(3) Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks do not have a quality starting point guard on this team. Keep in mind, it was Jason Kidd who helped guide this team to its 2011 NBA title. With last year’s Rookie of The
Year Luka Doncic and a healthy Kristaps Porzingis, it would seem they need one more playmaker to be in contention for the playoffs. Their best point guard option is 35 year old JJ Barea. They did sign marksman Seth Curry away from the Blazers for 4 years $32 million. Russell Westbrook might be just what they are missing. Rick Carlisle tends to be the “what I say goes” type of coach. If Russ sees that 2011 NBA Championship ring on his finger, he might
be inclined to listen if he wants one for himself.
(4) Philadelphia 76ers
This one might be a bit of a long shot, but if I’m the Sixers, I’m at least debating it. Ben Simmons biggest issue is his lack of shooting. I’m not saying going from Simmons to Westbrook would be like going from Ricky Rubio to Steph Curry, but it’s at least worth
looking. You already lost Jimmy Butler to Miami and you need someone who can create their own shot. You also let JJ Redick sign with New Orleans, so you need some offense from your backcourt. I’m not sure if Joel Embiid and Westbrook would clash, but if I’m the
front office, at least keep your options open for Westbrook.
(5) Minnesota Timberwolves
This one might be a bit of a stretch, but other than Karl Anthony-Townes and Andrew Wiggins, what’s left on that roster? Jeff Teague was benched in favor of Derrick Rose. You just let Rose go back to the Eastern Conference after he had the best season of his career
post-ACL injuries. You must have another play maker. The Timberwolves are wasting time having KAT there and they need to surround him with some other pieces. Having Westbrook
in the building would at least make the Wolves more fun to watch. However, after Jimmy Butler’s short-term stay, Minnesota may not want another head case to contend with in their
Well, there you have it. One other team of honorable mention: Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs have been aching since LeBron left town and they themselves have a bad contract they’d like to unload, Kevin Love. He has 1 year $24 million left on his deal. Don’t be surprised if Sam Presti picks up the phone, calls the Cleveland front office, and proposes Westbrook for Kevin Love and Colin Sexton. The Cavs are far from in love with Sexton and even took a PG in this year’s draft. Westbrook would make the Cavs interesting to watch
again, but OKC would win out if that deal were to be finalized.