Everyone Thinks the Miami Heat Is the Likeliest Destination for Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook Photo by aaronisnotcool / Flickr
NBA free-agency season isn't even a week old, and it's apparent none of us was fully prepared for the tsunami of offseason-basketball soap-opera news it has already brought thus far. East Coast fans are waking up to the NBA landscape having changed while they were asleep. Players are switching hotels to prevent other teams from getting a whiff of who else they might be meeting on the side. Guys who aren't even free agents are demanding trades to team up with current free agents. And the Miami Heat — without a single penny to its name — has somehow been one of the busiest teams since the NBA's off-season edition of Game of Thrones got underway.

We thought we were ready. It's crystal clear at this point that our bodies were, in fact, not ready. Someone call a timeout and squeeze some Gatorade into our mouths. We're exhausted!

As if adding Jimmy Butler via a sign-and-trade from the Philadelphia 76ers weren't enough, the Heat is now rumored to be a landing spot for Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star guard and triple-double machine Russell Westbrook, who is likely not having as much fun as the rest of us this week after watching his running mate, Paul George, force his way off the Thunder and onto the Los Angeles Clippers. Apparently, the Thunder isn't all about half-measures, and after scoring a treasure chest full of first-round picks (including two who once belonged to the Heat), the team is now looking to detonate a second grenade and send Westbrook away, with Miami as a possible destination.

Yup, that's a thing. Nope, none of us saw that one coming either. This is why the NBA off-season is our favorite show on Netflix.

With few assets to spare and — oh, yeah — zero dollars to spend, the Heat wouldn't seem to be a logical suitor for one of the NBA's best players. Luckily for Pat Riley and Miami, however, Westbrook is on a contract many consider an albatross. He's become a negative asset because whoever trades for him will be the one paying him a gazillion dollars to play basketball until flying cars arrive. That fact has driven down his price and made a Butler-Westbrook tandem in Miami a possibility.
In this game of NBA off-season musical chairs, there are only a few teams that would even want to think about adding Westbrook, an 11-year veteran. For starters, his contract is a thing. Westbrook has four years and $170 million left on his contract. That's not ideal. Few teams would want to sign up for that in a vacuum, but if you're the Miami Heat — a team that just landed Jimmy Butler almost for free and has entered a four-year "win-now" window — paying the price for an All-Star guard who averaged a triple-double last season is a bullet you just might have to bite.

Depending upon what the Thunder is looking for in return for Westbrook and his massive contract, you can bet the Miami Heat will be on the other end of the phone listening. Pat Riley isn't known for his patience or for worrying much about things that will happen three seasons into the future. The mere fact the Heat could end a season missing the playoffs and waving goodbye to Dwyane Wade — and then enter this upcoming season with two potential All-NBA players — is a testament to what the franchise is all about: Nothing is impossible, and winning now, at any cost, is always the plan. 
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.