The Oklahoma City Thunder have officially begun to take trade inquiries on franchise point guard Russell Westbrook, and a team of special interest in recent days has been the Miami Heat.
Miami and Westbrook have reportedly shared mutual interest, similarly to how the Heat were able to capitalize on Jimmy Butler’s interest in coming to South Beach. The trouble with executing any sort of deal in this case, however, rests in the financials of both teams.
As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports, the Thunder are hoping to get out of the luxury tax, but the Heat do not have the ability to take on added salary because of the sing-and-trade that they executed to get Butler:
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) July 10, 2019
The Heat already had to shed a lot of salary just to allow Butler to sign. They sent Hassan Whiteside off to the Blazers while also sending Josh Richardson to the Sixers, clearing the way for Butler to sign, but also not allowing a shred of cap space.
Miami has explored moving Goran Dragic and Kelly Olynyk and even thought they had traded both players to the Dallas Mavericks as part of the three-team deal to acquire Butler, but Dallas pulled out because they thought they were receiving Derrick Jones Jr.
Although the Thunder desperately want to escape the luxury tax, they may have to bite the bullet and ask for more young talent in addition to the salary that they take on in return from any team that might pursue Westbrook.
There is sure to be plenty of jostling between Pat Riley and Sam Presti in an effort to complete a deal.