NBA rumors: Thunder open to trading Russell Westbrook; Heat interested

NBA rumors: Thunder open to trading Russell Westbrook; Heat interested

We've seen unprecedented movement of current and former All-Stars this offseason as NBA teams try to gear up to dethrone the Warriors. So, what's one more name added to the list?

According to a new report, Russell Westbrook could join a sizeable group of prominent players to change teams this summer, including the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Kemba Walker and D'Angelo Russell.

In the aftermath of the trade that sent George to the Clippers for a massive haul of draft picks, the Oklahoma City Thunder reportedly have begun considering the possibility of trading Westbrook as well, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.

Currently 30 years old, Westbrook has four years and $170 million remaining on his contract, which makes any trade for the former MVP a complex one. However, he's coming off three consecutive seasons in which he's averaged a triple-double, and that abundance of talent has at least one team reportedly interested.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, there is mutual interest between Westbrook and the Miami Heat.

Heat president Pat Riley has long been known as a big-game hunter throughout his tenure as a league executive, and he already added another pelt to his wall this offseason in orchestrating a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler. If the Heat were able to acquire Westbrook as well, that would give them one of the top duos in all of the NBA.

Sending Westbrook to the Heat would also get another star out of the loaded Western Conference, which would help the Warriors' playoff hopes. While many teams are loading up in hopes of taking Golden State off its five-year perch at the top of the Western Conference, Oklahoma City would be one of the few teams in the West that would hit the reset button instead.

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Miami's cupboards aren't exactly overflowing with assets at the moment, however, so it's not immediately apparent what the Heat would send the other way in a potential trade for Westbrook. Still, given the extreme shift in trajectory and expectations in Oklahoma City, it seems unlikely that Westbrook will be reinvigorated to remain there anytime soon.

2020 NBA Draft sleepers: How Daniel Oturu can fill role for Warriors

2020 NBA Draft sleepers: How Daniel Oturu can fill role for Warriors

Editor's note: As the Warriors prepare for the 2020 NBA draft, NBC Sports Bay Area will present a twice-weekly series spotlighting two "Sleepers" likely to be evaluated. This is the third of a 12-part series on intriguing prospects considered risky to select among the top 10. 

The Warriors are strongly considering trading down in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft, and there will be no shortage of fascinating prospects if they decide to drop down from the top five.

One such individual is Minnesota big man Daniel Oturu, who is a bit of a project but has drawn comparisons to several effective NBA centers, including Clint Capela, formerly of the Houston Rockets and now of the Atlanta Hawks.

The Warriors once hoped Jordan Bell could fill that role, be a nimble small-ball center who is able to pair a strong defensive presence while also representing a significant lob threat. A second-round pick in 2017, Bell showed some early promise but was undone by inattention to details. The Warriors let him walk after two seasons.

At 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, Oturu is a couple inches taller and about 20 pounds heavier than Bell. Furthermore, Oturu possess a better collection of skills, which is why it’s expected he’ll be gone before the second round. More likely, he’ll go in the first, probably between 12 and 20.

Reviewing his college video, it’s apparent Oturu is an adequate leaper with a good sense of offensive spacing and defensive court awareness. The last Warriors big man to arrive as a rookie with those characteristics is Kevon Looney, whose future effectiveness is massively uncertain.

Oturu’s single greatest skill appears to be rebounding, as he uses a combination of length, anticipation and aggression on the glass. He reached double figures in rebounding in 19 of Minnesota’s 31 games and seven times snagged at least 16. Rebounding is an art that almost always carries from college to the NBA.

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The best description of his rim protection is professional. He has a knack for blocking shots and also, to use an Andrew Bogut term, “discouraging” others from invading the paint. That he fouled out only once in 31 games as a sophomore indicates he’s not particularly jumpy, as young bigs tend to be.

On the other end, though, Oturu is less polished. He has decent hands but can be prone to turnovers. His jump shot is a work in progress but clearly was better as a sophomore than as a freshman. He’s prone to turnovers.

Though he is efficient in pick-and-roll sets, the Warriors don’t often lean on pick-and-roll. Still, it would be a potent weapon to have in their offensive arsenal. Oturu is not much of a passer, certainly not as clever as Marquese Chriss, who could get most of the minutes at center.

The biggest strike against Oturu is that he’s a smallish low-post center entering a league that rarely utilizes those skills -- unless you’re a legitimate franchise player, which Oturu is not.

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr, acutely aware of Looney’s challenges, has been transparent in his desire to add another big man to the roster. Insofar as Chriss turns 23 next month, it’s more likely that the new addition will be a veteran.

Doesn’t have to be. And if the goal is to add someone who can come off the bench, catch lobs on one end and be a paint presence on the other, Oturu is on the short list.

Daniel Oturu

Position: Center

Class: Sophomore

Birthdate: Sept. 20, 1999 (20)

Hometown: Woodbury, Minn.

2019-20 stats: 20.1 points (56.3 percent FG, 36.5 percent 3p, 70.7percent FT), 11.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocks.

Height: 6-9.5

Weight: 240

Wingspan: 7-3

What they’re saying: “I think right now, he’s probably playing as well as any player in the country. All of our guys had to play a role in defending him.” – Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell, to reporters after Oturu recorded 19 points and nine rebounds against the Scarlet Knights in January.

NBA rumors: Warriors privately 'cool' on playing when season returns

NBA rumors: Warriors privately 'cool' on playing when season returns

To play or not to play?

That is the question facing the Warriors as the NBA nears a decision on how many teams will participate when the league resumes the 2019-20 season.

While coach Steve Kerr said the team is operating as if the season is over, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday that owner Joe Lacob told his fellow owners that the team was "willing" to play if all 30 NBA teams were asked to play.

But ... Wojnarowski also reported, citing sources, that the Warriors have been "far more cool to the idea in private."

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Based on Wojnarowski's reporting from Friday, the NBA Board of Governors are expected to approve commissioner Adam Silver's proposal for a 22-team restart plan later this week, meaning the Warriors -- who hold the worst record in the league -- would not be asked to play any more games this season.

The Warriors don't have anything left to play for this season. They are the only team that has been officially eliminated from playoff contention. Does it make sense for the players to go through several weeks of training camp to play a handful of meaningless games?

"It's a hard thing to put your mind in that space, 'I'm gonna go out here and compete and bust my a-- and know in five games we're just gonna be back in the offseason again,' " Warriors star Steph Curry told former teammate Anthony Morrow recently on "The Life Podcast."

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Would it be advantageous for the Warriors to get a brief look at Curry playing alongside Andrew Wiggins? Sure, but they don't need to risk injury to either player when the goal is making sure the team is ready to bounce back for the 2020-21 season.

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