After trading Paul George to the Clippers for a whopping 5 first round picks and several young prospects over the weekend, the Oklahoma City Thunder followed that up by trading Jerami Grant to the Nuggets for another first-round pick. It is clear that the Thunder are in rebuild mode. This was more clear after reports surfaced that Sam Presti and the Thunder have started to listen to trade talks for their star guard.
Westbrook is an elite guard on the Thunder having won the Most Valuable Player in 2017 and is an 8-time All-Star. Westbrook is at his peak with unmatchable production and has averaged a triple-double for the past three years. There is no doubt that he will be highly sought after due to his eliteness and star production.
Russell does come with a hefty price. Firstly, Westbrook is due over $171 million over the next 4 years. Teams that trade for him will need to be wary of his enormous price tag. In addition, teams that do intend to trade for him will need to have young and valuable assets as that is what the Thunder want in return for Westbrook. However, not many teams that have all the necessary assets and enough cap space would pass on the opportunity to acquire a team leader and team changer. Below is a list of 6 teams that would be a great place for Westbrook to call home over the next 4 years.
6. Detroit Pistons
Although quite hard to grasp, Westbrook could potentially call Mo-Town home. Detroit has been a fringe playoff team for the last couple of years. With Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond up front, the Pistons seem dangerous. However, their backcourt is disastrous.
Russell Westbrook would be able to lead this backcourt and impart his knowledge and skill to the young guards. Although this trade would seem quite outlandish, it is still very possible as the Pistons have plenty of cap space and first-round picks available for the Thunder.
5. New York Knicks
The Knicks are difficult. They completely disappointed this offseason after missing out on premier free agents and ending up with the third overall pick. Although they added several players during free agency and also drafted RJ Barrett, that will not be enough for the Knicks to achieve the break that many anticipated that they would have this summer.
The acquisition of Russell Westbrook would be the exact spark that this franchise needs. With Westbrook and their young talents like RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks can be a dangerous team. The Knicks would be a perfect fit as they could take up Westbrook’s large contract and also have a lot of first round picks.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves are also another potential trade option for the Thunder. The Timberwolves, within two years, have shifted to the bottom of the Western Conference as many of the teams have added superstars while the Wolves have lagged behind and failed to improve their team. After missing out on the D’Angelo Russell sweepstakes, the T-Wolves need to acquire a star point guard like Russell Westbrook in order to improve the team.
Former first overall pick Andrew Wiggins has not panned out as expected. It is time for the Wolves to move on from Wiggins and instead focus on the present and Westbrook. The Timberwolves have a many of first round picks and cap space, making them a proper trade partner with the Thunder.
3. Chicago Bulls
Another appealing option is the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are a rebuilding team that desperately needs a star in order to elevate themselves from being the laughingstock of the league to a serious contender in the East. With many solid pieces in their roster, the Bulls would greatly benefit with the addition of a leader and offensive star like Russell Westbrook. He can truly lead young players like Zach LaVine, Lauri Markannen, and Wendell Carter Jr.
The Bulls have plenty of cap space and would be willing to harbor Westbrook’s large contract. In exchange for Westbrook, the Bulls can offer young players like Kris Dunn and several first round picks.
2. Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets also present an intriguing option for guard Russell Westbrook. Before proceeding to be a franchise star and all-time great in the NBA, James Harden was united with Westbrook and Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City. Although their entire potential didn’t develop, the trio of Westbrook, Durant, and Harden was very dangerous with excellent chemistry.
In 2012, Sam Presti decided to trade James Harden to the Houston Rockets. That would be one of the worst decisions ever made by Presti as Harden went on to win MVP and be a runner up several times. Daryl Morey has a chance to get 2/3rds of the band back with a trade for Russell Westbrook. With two offensive beasts in the backcourt, Houston can have incredible offensive production and can easily become one of the best teams in the Western Conference. With chemistry already very present, this trade makes sense.
But, the Rockets have a problem. With Chris Paul’s enormous contract, the Rockets are stuck as they can’t afford Westbrook’s massive contract. However, the Rockets do have young and valuable assets to offer. The Rockets have Clint Capela and a few first round picks. In order for this trade to go through, Houston will have to involve a third team in order to dump Chris Paul’s contract.
The prospect of having both Westbrook and Harden together on the same team is a very scary thought.
1. Miami Heat
After completing a blockbuster trade last week with the 76ers, the Miami Heat have immediately transformed themselves into contenders in the East. Other than Jimmy Butler, the Heat do not have many other great players that can be a consistent star alongside Butler.
Russell Westbrook would be a perfect fit in this situation. Westbrook brings along immense statistical production and will have an immediate effect on this Heat team. In addition, as a great leader, Westbrook can harvest great potential from the younger players on this team like Bam Adebayo. Westbrook would be a perfect fit with the Heat as he expressed his interest in playing in Miami earlier this week.
Fiscally, the Miami Heat have plenty of cap space and have young assets like Justice Winslow, Tyler Herro, and a plethora of first round picks. A Jimmy Butler and Russell Westbrook team in the East would be one to fear and would wreak havoc for years.