Where the Thunder could have traded Russell Westbrook instead of the Rockets
The Oklahoma City Thunder were forced to trade franchise icon Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets in the summer of 2019 after Paul George requested a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Westbrook, the best player in Thunder franchise history, was traded to the Rockets on July 16, 2019, for Chris Paul and a bevy of draft picks.
But before Thunder general manager Sam Presti traded Westbrook to Houston, OKC had trade talks centered on Russ with three other teams.
The Thunder spoke to the Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors about a Westbrook trade. However, nothing ever materialized and Westbrook wound up getting shipped to Houston, where he reunited with James Harden.
Presti tried to trade George and Westbrook to the Raptors, but talks never gained traction, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The Raptors didn’t want to part ways with rising star Pascal Siakam. Had Presti been able to strike a deal for George with the Raptors — and Kawhi Leonard was willing to stay — George was believed to be willing to join Toronto.
In the end, though, Leonard and George got their wishes and are now playing back home in California together on the Clippers.
Pat Riley and the Heat really wanted to acquire Westbrook and pair him with All-Star small forward Jimmy Butler. Miami believed Westbrook’s elite skills and relentless competitiveness fit what the Heat want in a player, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
However, the Heat didn’t want to part ways with Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, two players the Thunder were asking for in return for Westbrook.
The Pistons, who had All-Star power forward Blake Griffin coming off a banner year, had a lukewarm interest in acquiring Westbrook from the Thunder, according to Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Detroit could have hypothetically traded Reggie Jackson, Tony Snell, Luke Kennard and multiple draft picks for Westbrook, but the Pistons never seriously made an attempt to trade for the former MVP.
Prior to the 2019-20 season getting suspended in March due to COVID-19, Westbrook was averaging 27.5 points, 8.0 boards and 7.0 assists in 53 games for the Rockets. The future Hall-of-Famer was also shooting 47.4 percent from the field, 25.4 percent from beyond the arc and 77.7 percent from the free-throw line.
Moving forward, Russell Westbrook is set to make $41,358,814 in 2020-21 and $44,211,146 in 2021-22. He has a player option worth $47,063,478 for the 2022-23 season.
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