Russell Westbrook had long been linked to the Miami Heat before the blockbuster trade that ultimately sent him to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul. A duo of Westbrook and Jimmy Butler in South Beach working under Pat Riley actually didn’t sound all that bad. In fact, they could have easily been a top contender in the Eastern Conference next season.
But there were some difficulties executing any trade that would have brought Westbrook to Florida. Mainly, the undeniable faith that the Heat front office has in its young core; Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, and Justise Winslow.
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Thunder asked the Heat if they would be willing to include two of those three players in a potential Westbrook deal. But Miami declined.
“OKC has asked the Heat to include impressive rookie guard Tyler Herro in the proposed trade,” Jackson wrote. “But the Heat has been reluctant to do that. Because Herro signed with the Heat on Wednesday, he cannot be included in any trade for 30 days, but that isn’t viewed as an obstacle.”
“At another point in the discussions this week, the Thunder asked the Heat to include two among Herro, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow, according to a source in touch with one of the two teams. The Heat also is opposed to including Adebayo, whom coach Erik Spoelstra ranked among the best centers in the league in the final months of last season.”
The trade that did end up happening – Westbrook joining James Harden once again while Chris Paul and endless first-round picks end up in OKC – was just as shocking as the Paul George-to-the-Clippers news, if not more so. The fact that a major reason it had to happen was because of the faith the Heat have in its young players is telling. Herro hasn’t even played in an NBA game yet and Adebayo is only about to turn 22. Yet the organization passed on the chance at a superstar to keep them around.
Can we pleaseeee just start the season already??