The Miami Heat are one of the top suitors for Russell Westbrook, but they are drawing a line in the sand regarding two young players.
Upon news the Oklahoma City Thunder were entertaining the idea of trading Russell Westbrook, the Miami Heat emerged as one of the top rumored suitors. They’ve already made the unlikely addition of Jimmy Butler via a three-team trade, so why not add another star to the backcourt?
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported the Heat and Thunder have had preliminary discussion about a deal for Westbrook, while also diving deeper into the mechanics of a potential deal and implications for Miami. Most notably a 3-for-1 deal would leave them with 12 players under contract when league rules mandate 13 by the time the season starts, so they’d have to have financial room to sign someone else. Jackson presumed the signing of rookie first-round pick Tyler Herro, which officially happened on Wednesday.
Without less in the way of draft pick capital to get Oklahoma City’s attention, Miami would have to include a young player in a trade for Westbrook. But according to Jackson, they are drawing a line at two specific young players right now.
The Heat and Thunder have been discussing potential combinations of players, and those specifics remain unknown. But indications are the Heat would prefer not to include Bam Adebayo or Herro. This trade would be highly appealing to the Heat if Miami can merely shed contracts of players not in its long-term plans, but it’s questionable if the Thunder would go for that.
That leaves Justise Winslow as an appealing young player for the Heat to send to the Thunder, with Goran Dragic and any one of Meyers Leonard, James Johnson or Kelly Olynyk to match up (or actually exceed) the money Westbrook is owed. Dragic could be taken out of a deal, but he would have a greatly diminished role if Westbrook is brought aboard and his expiring contract is an asset. A 2-for-1 deal, with just Dragic and Winslow, actually works too.
The Thunder surely don’t want a set of salary/expiring contract dumps in exchange for Westbrook. Things can change, but early talks eventually set the framework for a trade the Heat better be ready to say goodbye to Winslow if Adebayo and Herro are off-limits.