The NBA spotlight is now trained on Russell Westbrook. It has become clear the Oklahoma City Thunder front office has intended to trade not only Paul George, who has gone to the Clippers at the start of the week but also Westbrook. And it's nearly a done deal that the former MVP will depart for a new city, and the only question is: Where he's headed to?
Reports said five NBA teams are in strong contention and among the most favored are the Detroit Pistons and the Houston Rockets. It is the latter team that seems the natural choice for the Thunder All-Star as there he would get the chance to play again with James Harden. It would be a blockbuster deal that no doubt would match the NBA headlines that hit the news the past weeks.
However, it seems more likely that Westbrook would make the jump south and join the Miami Heat. For starters, the Heat is interested in landing the 11-year veteran, and it is the same feeling for Westbrook. According to Bleacher Report, the two camps are mutually interested and talks are now underway.
But why Westbrook would want to leave Oklahoma, which he called for over ten years? It turned out OKC's decision to trade George was a game-changer. Suddenly, the Thunder lost an All-Star player and the need to make adjustments became more apparent. Now is the time to rebuild for GM Sam Presti, who welcomed the idea of shipping his team's remaining All-Star in order to gain a younger roster.
For his part, it dawned on Westbrook that with George gone the Thunder is not the same caliber. According to The New York Post, "Westbrook wants to play for a team in contention," and it is no longer the reality in Oklahoma. The time has come for him to search a new base where perhaps he would finally earn an NBA ring.
CBS Sports said shopping around Westbrook is not an easy task for GM Pesti. The All-Star has a price tag of more than $170 million, payable over the next four years. For many NBA teams, such money matter is a non-starter.
Then there's Westbrook style of play that, according to CBS, is too aggressive for teams hunting for a star guard. It might prod interested teams to think twice before deciding, but the Heat appears ready to implement reconfigurations.
Bleacher Report said if Westbrook joins in, the Heat would be glad to create a tandem of Westbrook and the freshly acquired Jimmy Butler. The duo might just be the formula that the team is looking for to better their fortune in the NBA, which has been on a roller coaster since LeBron James took a return ticker to Cleveland five years ago.