After the Thunder traded Paul George for a ridiculous haul of future draft picks and rising-sophomore point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Westbrook met with the team and the two sides reportedly agreed it would be best to find him a new team.
The Miami Heat are prohibitive favorites to land Russell Westbrook in a trade, as there are a few teams that have reported interest in Westbrook and a willingness to take him on with four years and $170 million remaining on his contract. Miami, with Jimmy Butler brought in this summer, is at the top of the list and the interest between the team and Westbrook is mutual.
The issue, and this was always going to be the sticking point that dragged out any Westbrook trade discussion, is the two teams meeting in the middle and agreeing on what Russ’ trade value is. Westbrook is not going to come close to fetching the same price as George, for a variety of reasons, but the Thunder also won’t want to just shuttle him off without getting some positive assets in return.
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the two sides are at a bit of a stalemate right now in discussions for this very reason, as they can’t agree on what young players should go to OKC in return for Westbrook.
Oklahoma City has asked the Heat for multiple young, valuable assets in trade conversations involving guard Russell Westbrook, and Miami – at least to this point – has refused, according to a league source briefed on the discussions by one of the teams.
Jackson notes that the Thunder have requested a combination of two of Tyler Herro, Justise Winslow, and Bam Adebayo in trade talks, especially pushing for Herro. Miami would prefer not to lose either of Herro, who has lit up Summer League, or Adebayo, who was a key contributor last year and would be the Heat’s starting center next season.
Winslow is all but a lock to be included in a deal because his salary plus Goran Dragic’s expiring makes for $32 million, which goes a long way in matching Westbrook’s deal. However, the other piece that would go back to OKC appears to be, as of now, the major sticking point and as such talks may drag out for some time. Herro, it should be noted, can’t be dealt until next month since he just signed with the Heat, so if he is to be included, nothing can be official until August.
The Heat don’t have much in the way of draft capital to send the Thunder, which means if they want Westbrook they may have to acquiesce and give up one of their coveted young players along with Winslow and Dragic. At the same time, the longer things drag out the more incentive the Thunder have to just get a deal done to avoid awkwardness in the form of Westbrook having to answer questions about the situation in training camp and possibly into the start of the regular season.