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Potential Trade Destinations for Russell Westbrook After Paul George's Exit | Bleacher Report



  Oklahoma City Thunder Guard Russell Westbrook (0) celebrates after scoring against Portland Trail Blazers in the first half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first round playoff series Sunday, April 21, 2019 in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo / Alonzo Adams)

Alonzo Adams / Associated Press

Russell Westbrook is once again the Oklahoma City Thunder's only star. For how much longer, though, is not certain.

Kawhi Leonard decided to join Los Angeles Clippers early Saturday morning, as first reported by Yahoo Sports & nbsp; Chris Haynes . His arrival takes place with Paul George, who Clippers primed from Thunder on a draft-pick prize, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

What comes after Oklahoma City is not quite clear. Taking advantage of Westbrook and starting again seems to be the rather obvious move, but it's not that simple.

Rerouting Westbrook is very general. He owes 171.1 million. $ Over the next four years, so teams will not treat him as a net positive asset. Thunder would be fortunate to broker a deal that ensures a noticeable cap relief.

Prospective suitors are even harder to scoff at this "late" in the free office. Cap space has dried up around the league, and then many of Oklahoma City's will-be options as well. Squads willing to hire priced guards can now also try to measure Toronto Raptor's willingness to read Kyle Lowry's far more tasty expiration pact.

Thunder's return on George Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, five first-rounders and two additional pick swaps give them some flexibility. They can look to smooth out the Rooster around Westbrook or wait and see how this core danger in next year's game is wild, before taking drastic decisions.

But no choice feels like a viable solution. Not this time. As ESPNs Royce Young wrote:

"The Thunder is comfortable starting a reconstruction rather than trying to reorganize. But they will evaluate their opportunities ahead, which includes seeing how this team looks Out with Westbrook, who carries the charge with Gallinari and Steven Adams, current pieces act to try to add to the router or turn restart on the roster completely and trade with Westbrook. The latter option seems to be the most likely scenario. " [19659004] Timing is everything for Oklahoma City. Trading Westbrook faster than later can be the least painful approach, but potential destinations dry up. If thunder has the stomach for it, wait until midseason figures to open the field.

Cleveland Cavaliers

  OKLAHOMA CITY, OCT-NOVEMBER 28: Russell Westbrook # 0 of Oklahoma City Thunder handles the ball against Collin Sexton # 2 in Cleveland Cavaliers on November 28, 2018 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO THE USER: User explicitly

Zach Beeker / Getty Images

File Cavaliers under "Long Shots, but they have Kevin Love."

Cleveland is in the early stages of a reconstruction. Goes for Westbrook shorts, which scratch the process. Stars are worth changing course, but Cavaliers has three bullet-dominant watch prospects during their care in Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr. and Collin Sexton. Adding another, even if it costs one of the established ones, is not the most down-to-earth game.

Maybe it doesn't matter, or maybe it's only less than the potential opportunity. Cleveland still has JR Smith's partially guaranteed deal on the books, worth $ 15.7 million in outgoing pay, but can be depreciated for $ 3.9 million.

Oklahoma City finds no more immediate savings. An agreement that includes Porter, Smith and Brandon Knight, cuts over $ 17 million from the bottom line and gets thunder below the given threshold for luxury tax, of course they waive Smith.

The Cavaliers were to reconcile the expensive overlap of this scenario. They need to cut wages to avoid the luxury tax, even if they refrain from Smith himself. Taking Westbrook sends them to a pay north of $ 150 million before taxes, next season.

They also need to find out what Westbrook arrival means to Garland and Sexton. Do they keep one? Both? Should they send out as part of the deal? Is there another star out there for them to poach? Bradley Beal, maybe?

And before the Cavaliers ever come that far, they have to ask if a Love-Westbrook duo is worth the trouble. The answer is probably no, but if they seek to strike in the east now without wiping out their activity base, Westbrook will be among the few splashy trades that do not force them to mortgage much more than future expenses. [19659004]

Detroit Pistons

  OKLAHOMA CITY, OK-APRIL 5: Russell Westbrook # 0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder is responding to the Detroit stamps on April 5, 2019 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and accepts that by downloading

Zach Beeker / Getty Images

Tethering the franchise to Westbrook and Blake Griffin (three years, $ 110.2 million) would be a risk to the stamps, but It is not an unthinkable one.

Reggie Jackson finally gets an offseason unimpeded by injury, and Detroit has already signed Derrick Rose for a two-year, $ 15 million deal. It hardly extends the point guard position.

Both are incomplete fits next to Griffin and Andre Drummond. Jackson is better than usable as the third wheel, but only if he regains his first step burst and downsets jumpers in a league average clip. Rose is a worthy backup tile, but remains susceptible to damage. Ankle problems and a seasonal elbow injury blew a 2018-19 performance that was already overblown.

Westbrook is not a pure fit though. He is a star force. His efficiency cratered last season, and the thunder struggled to create consistent offense when he played without Paul George, but he remains a natural force. The pressure he puts on the defense with his incessant probes has All Star value alone.

Pairing him with Griffin can be worth a shot if thunder does not charge more than financial relief. The flasks have the wiggle space under the hard cap to offer them some.

Packages built around Jackson's expiration deal, Tony Snell (two years, $ 23.6 million) and a combination of Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Thon Maker and clearing the second round pick should get Oklahoma City's attention. Detroit is free to go if it requires more than a heavily protected first rounder to sweeten the pot.

Miami Heat

  MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 01: Russell Westbrook # 0 of Oklahoma City Thunder in battle against Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 1, 2019 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and accepts that by downloading and / or

Mark Brown / Getty Images

heat president Pat Riley had design on landing two stars at the end of next summer. Jimmy Butler does one so maybe Riley will move up on his timeline and go after the other.

Cobbling along with usable Westbrook-to-Miami deals is difficult. The Heat is encapsulated by the Butler sign-and-trade and has not yet officially anchored the luxury tax threshold. They need to mediate a pay dump (Goran Dragic) or renounce Ryan Anderson's partially guaranteed agreement ($ 15.6 million).

Getting Westbrook to Miami is more durable if OKC does not require short-term cap relief. Both Anderson and Dragic expire contracts, and thunder can recover more value if they are willing to take money that wastes in 2020-21.

Sending Anderson with one of James Johnson (two years, $ 31.4 million) Kelly Olynyk (two years, $ 25.7 million) or Dion Waiters (two years, $ 24.8 million) would be ideal to Heat. It allows them to scour the market for a Dragic dump (Dallas!) And remove the luxury tax.

Whether they have the additional assets to sell Thunder on that framework is another story. Oklahoma City will still be in the luxury tax and be responsible for reducing costs elsewhere.

Bam Adebayo or Tyler Herro are good buffers, but their wages make it harder to evade the treasure, and Heat cannot offer a first round of selections until 2025. Oklahoma City now controls their elections in 2021 (unprotected) and 2023 (lottery Only).

But unless thunder stumbles in a suitor that promotes more immediate relief, heat must be considered as an option. They are star-haired and unsteady on spot guard, and any package they put together will open up to save Oklahoma City a ton of money starting in 2020-21.

New York Knicks

  NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: General Manager Scott Perry and President Steve Mills of the New York Knicks before the preseason game against Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on October 3, 2018 in Brooklyn neighborhood in New York City. NOTE TO THE USER: User

Matteo Marchi / Getty Images

Sponging up the rest of the Westbrook contract does not coincide with Knicks & # 39; current timeline. They have stacked the deck for a gradual reconstruction project after missing both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

At the same time, they are well equipped to make a blown trade when summer's free agents are eligible to be dealt with in mid-December. Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis all signed a two-year offer for a team choice for 2020-21, and Julius Randle's three-season pact has a team option for 2021-22.

If Knicks are at all having to add a big name, they want the long-term cap relief and the prospect of luring the thunder. To be clear: It's not the smart move. Nor is it likely.

Team President Steve Mills and General Manager Scott Perry seem committed to a long-standing, if not uncertain, process. They apparently refused the chance to acquire Chris Paul from the Houston Rockets, by The Ringers Kevin O & # 39; Connor.

But Knicks has undermined their own reinventions before. They are always candidates to do so again.

Orlando Magic

Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press

The magic has tied to a wind-now window after taking Terrence Ross and Nikola Vucevic back on four-year deals and signing Al -Farouq Aminu for a three-year deal. Acquiring Westbrook would be a special kind of nuclear, but they will get the incentive to go for it if Markelle Fultz doesn't pan or not at all.

Orlando has lots of compelling pieces in the event Westbrook catches its attention. Fultz and Evan Fournier stand out most if Oklahoma City prioritises big-picture cap relief, but dangling Aaron Gordon would serve double purposes as both a contract anchor and pack centerpiece.

Phoenix Suns

Rick Scuteri / Associated Press

Signing Ricky Rubio probably removes Suns from Westbrook discussions – for now. It will be another story if thunder does not address his future until December or after the new year.

Tyler Johnson's expiry is a pre-paid anchor. The suns can throw out the package from there using Rubio, Frank Kaminsky or even Kelly Oubre Jr. (provided he rewrites), and they also have Aron Baynes expiration contract.

Getting started with scrubbing is more of a head scraper. Oubre would act as a main attraction if the thunder would have him at his next prize point, but the suns didn't have much over him. They already turned to Milwaukee Bucks 2020 first rounder for the Boston Celtics, including Mikal Bridges or Cameron Johnson, one step too far.

Maybe they consider it anyway. The Suns have been forever hurrying, and a Westbrook-Devin Booker partnership may be the kind of high-risk, high-reward gambit they are willing to pamper while giving up Johnson or one of their own future front. [19659004]

Unless otherwise mentioned, statistics on NBA.com, Basketball Reference or Glass Cleaning are published. Salary and cap-hold information via Basketball Insiders and RealGM.

Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter ( @danfavale ) and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by B / R's Andrew Bailey.


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