Russell Westbrook will likely choose his next team and he likes the Miami Heat.
So how did we get here?
Note: Please correct me if I am wrong
Highly-coveted Free Agent Kawhi Leonard told the L.A Clippers he would join them if they could pair him with another Superstar – preferably another California native, OKC’s Paul George.
After a MVP-caliber season, but a first-round playoff exit, Paul George knew he would not win a title as a member of the Thunder, so he ‘demanded’ a trade to the Clippers to join Kawhi. Keep in mind George just committed to a 4-year $136+ million contract with the Thunder last offseason and was praised for being ‘loyal’. Many believe George would have joined the Lakers but stayed in OKC after LeBron stole his thunder (pun-intended).
Stay with me here:
Now that OKC lost one of their superstars with George, the writing was on the wall, their proverbial window just closed on winning, and holding onto a 30-year old Russell Westbrook who is owed $170 million over the next 4-years just seems irresponsible.
On Monday 7/8/19 the Thunder traded another one of their quality players in Jerami Grant to the Nuggets for a first round pick. This officially summed up that OKC decided to begin their re-build. Remember, Russell Westbrook was the loyal player that stayed when Kevin Durant left and the franchise owes him for keeping the team relevant. A happy Westbrook is a prerogative as they’ll likely re-visit their relationship when his career is over.
This means moving him to a team that he approves of.
The Miami Heat are known for targeting ‘disgruntled’ quality players because they can get them at a discount (it’s not a secret).
Example (in no particular order):
Shaq, Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Ray Allen, P.J Brown, Ricky Davis, Anthony Mason, Dan Majerle, Jermaine O’ Neal, Shawn Marion, Clarence Weatherpoon, Jason Williams…
…oh and Jimmy Butler, who Miami just won for a 2nd Round Pick (with all respect to Josh Richardson).
It seems as though Pat Riley and his staff were simply waiting for the NEXT opportunity to strike…even without the cap space or assets.
Miami as a city is naturally fascinating for professional athletes because of it’s nearly perfect weather and night life, but the team’s ‘Culture’ is notably respected league wide. This didn’t happen overnight, it was carefully crafted and branded since Pat Riley came to the franchise.
Russell Westbrook to Miami looks to be happening in the coming days and many are mind-boggled as to how Miami is getting another former MVP in his prime to fall into their laps.
It’s funny, because the Miami Heat sent a 1st round pick to the Clippers to complete the Jimmy Butler deal, which the Clippers wound of using (with other assets) to purge Paul George from OKC.
Did Miami know they were assisting the Clippers to get George with the motive to steal Westbrook? Probably not…unless……….
Many have bashed Pat Riley after he lost LeBron James and have called him “washed” for over-paying for the likes of James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters. Don’t worry, those tweets are stashed and stored for when Westbrook is stolen from the Thunder. Those fans will have to eat their words and hope to kiss the hands of the Godfather when asking for his forgiveness.
Read it and weep:
Per Adrian Wojnarowski: “Miami’s expressed interest, a destination that appeals to Westbrook.”
Story filed to ESPN: In aftermath of Paul George’s departure, OKC star Russell Westbrook is welcoming to idea of Sam Presti engineering a trade that would bring an end to his illustrious 11-year Thunder tenure. Miami's expressed interest, a destination that appeals to Westbrook.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 8, 2019
Woj with the latest on Westbrook just now pic.twitter.com/RRgtRVDpqx
— ALdonis SLASHburn™ (@AIR305) July 8, 2019
@ Lasner Sport
Russell Westbrook Image Edited and Created by @HeatMedia on Instagram