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Report: People around NBA consider it ‘inevitability’ Thunder will trade Russell Westbrook to Heat

Mac Engel column

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook reacts after dunking against the Miami Heat in the third quarter at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

TNS via Getty Images

There’s reportedly mutual interest between Russell Westbrook and the Heat. The Thunder are ready to trade Westbrook after heading toward rebuilding by sending Paul George to the Clippers.

Will Westbrook really land in Miami?

Tim Bontemps of ESPN:

People around the league consider it an inevitability that he will wind up there at this point, too.

Maybe these people know only what’s public and are jumping to conclusions. But the possibility they know more is intriguing. Perhaps, a Westbrook-to-Heat trade is even further down the road than we realize.

It’d make a lot of sense.

Miami has the expensive players – Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Justise Winslow, Kelly Olynyk, Dion Waiters – to match salaries. The Heat are also trying to win now while stuck. Westbrook would provide a jolt.

The Thunder would shed Westbrook’s burdensome contract ($171,139,920 over the next four years) as the 30-year-old likely continues to decline. Oklahoma City probably wouldn’t need much return.

And Westbrook would probably like Miami, a destination market. After all he has meant to the Thunder, they’ll probably try to send him somewhere he prefers.

There are complications. The Heat are hard-capped and near their team-salary limit. Oklahoma City wants to shed payroll and avoid the repeater luxury tax. This would probably require a third team to take salary. Miami is also short on draft picks to trade (though reducing protections on a lottery-protected 2023 first-rounder already owed to the Thunder could work).

While nothing is certain, we should probably treat Westbrook-to-the-Heat as at least a likelihood.