Kevin Durant’s departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder shook the basketball world. Though some thought it may happen, it was still incredible to see one the greatest players in the NBA join one of the most explosive teams in NBA history. With one move, Kevin Durant turned the already potent Golden State Warriors into a powerhouse force that has the league terrified and essentially sunk the prospects of the Oklahoma City Thunder who must now wonder if they will also get no value from their remaining star Russell Westbrook should he decide to part for free agency next season. Right now, Oklahoma City has to be thinking that they’d rather trade Westbrook now then watch that happen.
That’s where the rest of the league comes in. There is no team that wouldn’t gladly add the dynamic Russell Westbrook to their roster and call it a big win, but there are only a few teams that could conceivably make it happen. Though Oklahoma City can expect to field a lot of calls over the next few weeks concerning the future of Westbrook, these are the 15 teams that could actually make that blockbuster trade happen.
15 Philadelphia 76ers
I hear you. “Would Westbrook even be able to make a difference on the 76ers and does Philadelphia have the pieces needed to make it happen?” However, the Sixers are in a unique position to acquire Westbrook in the sense that anyone not named Ben Simmons is fair game. With the pairing of Westbrook and Simmons, the 76ers would have a deadly combination of young talent that could make them a contender in the still thin Eastern Conference. Actually, the appeal of Simmons' considerable prospects in this league may be enough to entice Westbrook to jump ship and take another run at that whole “fearsome twosome” concept. Still, to make this happen you’d have to imagine that the 76ers are likely going to have to sacrifice their upcoming first round draft picks. Whether or not they are willing to pull the trigger on such a move knowing they may lose Westbrook if things don't work out is the question.
14 Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul. You can’t have a conversation about the prospect of Westbrook going to the Clippers without the slight issue of Chris Paul coming. It’s highly unlikely that the Clippers would ever want to make a Chris Paul for Westbrook trade as it’s a largely lateral move that would arguably have no real long-term benefit for either team, meaning that somehow these two would need to play together. If that were to happen (which would likely involve Westbrook sliding into a new position) then the reason that the Clippers are such an intriguing prospect for Westbrook is because of Blake Griffin.
There were already rumors not too long ago that Oklahoma was interested in a Griffin and a draft pick trade for Kevin Durant, meaning that they might be willing to do the same for Westbrook. If L.A. believes that there is value in a Westbrook/Paul combination, they might be able to make it happen.
13 New York Knicks
The questions surrounding the Knicks acquisition of Derrick Rose only continue to grow now that we know Westbrook may be making a move. What was already a questionable decision given Rose’s awful health over the last few years is made all the worse by the fact that he now occupies a point guard space that could be Russell Westbrook’s. While that big move does put the Knicks in a bit of a bind, their situation isn’t entirely hopeless. They can find the money if they need to find the money, and they can probably find the players and picks if a Westbrook-related phone call comes their way that requires them to do so. The biggest argument against the Knicks pursuing Westbrook is actually time. If they are willing to wait until Westbrook officially declares his free agency, then they would be in a better position to give up nothing and still acquire the star.
12 Brooklyn Nets
New York City’s other basketball team (just kidding Brooklyn, you know we love you) are an exciting possibility in the Westbrook trade talks. Earlier this year, there were talks about Durant going Brooklyn-bound before that whole Golden State Voltron super team thing happened, and the situation that would have possibly attracted him to the Nets remains largely the same for Westbrook. As always, the biggest appeal of the Nets remains their market which Westbrook would no doubt fall in love with considering that he’s spent his professional career in Oklahoma City thus far.
Brooklyn could also throw a wave of players at OKC as well as a few draft picks should they be willing to really go for it. The big problem here, though, is whether or not the Nets would be able to beat the offers that other teams with more interesting spare players are going to be able to put together. They would have to give up a lot to make that happen, but it’s not impossible.
11 Houston Rockets
How great would it be to see James Harden and Russell Westbrook back together again? This combination was already among the league’s deadliest when they were last together in Oklahoma City, and Harden has become a significantly better all-around player since that time. So far as the on-the-court portion of the Westbrook trade talks goes, Houston is certainly one of the easiest destinations to imagine from a strategic perspective. However, like many teams, Houston has a bit of an issue when it comes to resources. With Dwight Howard gone and no meaningful additional draft picks in Houston’s artillery, it’s tough to imagine the trade package that Houston could generate which would appeal to the Oklahoma City brass. Westbrook probably considers Houston a desirable trade location, but Houston would have to work some multi-team magic to have a chance.
10 Utah Jazz
When you think of Utah as a Westbrook contender, your mind probably turns to fears over whether or not Utah could take advantage of Westbrook’s short-term services and put together a championship contender team. To be perfectly honest, it’s tough to imagine what that Jazz team would look like. However, this isn’t a discussion entirely about which teams Westbrook is most likely to win a title with. It’s a discussion about which teams could land his services, and you have to consider the Jazz to be a part of that discussion. They have utility players to burn without compromising the integrity of the team, and they even have an additional 2018 first-round draft pick to send back the Thunder’s way should they choose to do so. It’s a lot to give up, but if Utah feels that Westbrook can do great things in the short-term for them, then they can make it happen.
9 Washington Wizards
Wizards’ fans, how much do you love John Wall? Think hard now, because the answer to that question may very well determine whether or not you’re buying a Westbrook Wizards jersey at the start of the next season. It’s impossible to imagine the Wizards coming up with a trade package that allows them to keep Wall and Westbrook on the same team, but, if they’re willing to move Wall, then the conversation is suddenly much more interesting. Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook make for one intriguing guard combination, and Washington has the cap space needed to still be able to acquire Westbrook and make a few moves on the side. The other question is whether or not Oklahoma believes that Wall is worth it, but the right series of trade accessories could raise the appeal of this intriguing swap.
8 New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans can’t look at Westbrook and not see the perfect companion piece to their Buddy Hield and Anthony Davis combo. Though not the most high-profile trio ever assembled, Westbrook would easily slide into what is looking to be one of the deadliest combinations in the league. Unlike other high-profile teams that would need to squeeze Westbrook into the roster so awkwardly that they would be defeating the purpose of him being there in the first place, New Orleans must see the potential here. Oklahoma City is the real question mark.
We know that Davis likely isn’t going anywhere, and it’s difficult to imagine that either side would be willing to make a Buddy Hield move before he even gets a chance to show what he can do on a professional court. That doesn’t leave New Orleans with a whole lot to work with, so they would need to be confident that whatever they give up will be worth it.
7 Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves keep coming up in the Westbrook discussions, and it’s not hard to see why. They’ve got a capable roster of appealing players that, frankly, just haven’t been able to really come together yet and get the job done. The popular theory is that the team would move Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad and Ricky Rubio along with some draft picks in exchange for Westbrook. The even more interesting theory sees them move Andrew Wiggins to Oklahoma City in a simple one-for-one trade. Whether or not they would be willing to ship Wiggins is certainly up for debate, but the point is clear that if Minnesota believes that they can maximize the potential of Westbrook this year, then they have what’s needed to make it happen so long as Oklahoma is willing. It’s as likely a destination for Westbrook as any should he indeed part ways with the Thunder soon.
6 Miami Heat
If you’re a Miami fan looking for the upside of the franchise after Dwyane Wade leaving, consider the possibility that it leaves the door wide open for Westbrook to join the Heat. The Wade departure hurts on a spiritual level, but the fact of the matter is that the aging star isn’t likely to see his best years ahead of him. That’s not true of Westbrook who is very much still in the prime of his career. Of course, the departure of Wade does inspire the interesting question of whether or not the Heat would be willing to make a Westbrook trade now as opposed to waiting for his free agency period next year. The Heat certainly have centers to spare, but they don’t have that one piece that Oklahoma would never be able to resist. Even worse, the players they may have to give up would compromise the value that Westbrook could potentially bring to the team.
5 Chicago Bulls
We now enter the portion of this list known as the “hired gun” section. These are the teams that could not only conceivably land the services of Westbrook, but could use him to win a championship this coming season. First up are the Chicago Bulls. Remember all that talk about how Miami fans shouldn’t be too sad that Dwyane Wade left given that his contributions to that franchise were waning? That’s not necessarily true of the Chicago Bulls which could use Wade’s veteran presence to make a real run for the championship in the Eastern Conference. They have many capable young players on the roster, which is just as good for winning titles as it is for acquiring a guy like Westbrook.
Chicago can afford to move some pretty great players without sinking their franchise and Oklahoma City would have to consider those same players to be a pretty appealing acquisition in exchange for Westbrook.
4 Indiana Pacers
Ah, the Pacers. They’re a lot like the Spurs in that they regularly exercise the virtues of a fundamentals-based franchise, and they’re much different from the Spurs in that they rarely go beyond the first couple of rounds in the playoffs. The Pacers have a really good, low salary cap team in place that Westbrook could turn into something truly special. While you may not think of the Pacers as the kind of team to make such a mercenary move, the fact is that their business methods have afforded them a great deal of disposable cash, some tempting draft picks and players like Jeff Teague that could easily be shipped in order to satisfy Oklahoma City while still keeping the core of the team together. The fact that it’s so hard to imagine a team like the Pacers making this move may very well be the only reason it doesn’t happen.
3 Cleveland Cavaliers
Call it “ the ultimate dream scenario.” Not only would this give the championship Cavaliers the kind of team that you used to jokingly assemble in video games while beating your opponents by nearly triple digit figures, but it would set us up for a Westbrook vs. Durant finals that would likely draw the kind of television ratings that typically require a human sacrifice from network executives. Actually, it’s not even hard to imagine Westbrook fitting in on the team considering that Kyrie Irving could easily slide into a shooting guard role. The problem here is one of logistics. Let’s say that Kevin Love gets shipped as part of a deal with someone like J.R. Smith included. Would the Thunder bite? Is the cap space there to really make everyone happy? Perhaps the best question of them all is, could these two make a trade that the league would even approve?
2 Los Angeles Lakers
Russell Westbrook was born and raised in Los Angeles. He saw the Lakers rise to heights that few other franchises will ever see, and he’s seen them sink to their lowest point in decades over the last few years. You have to believe that he’s got the fire in him to see Los Angeles reverse its current path. The Lakers would love to utilize that as they look to turn their fortunes around. Even better, Los Angeles has the pieces to make it happen. Lakers fans may not be crazy about the idea of giving up guys like D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram, but the fact is that Los Angeles is going to need a guy to build their team around over the next few years and there is nobody better that’s potentially available than Russell Westbrook. You have to believe that nobody is off the table for the Lakers when it comes to rebuilding and, if that is the case, then they’ve got to feel that there are no bad trades for Westbrook.
1 Boston Celtics
It’s been a rough few years for the Boston Celtics, but that doesn’t mean that their situation is hopeless. While the team’s once mighty empire has faded away into dust, they’ve still managed to assemble an impressive roster of talent (most of which was acquired from the highly lucrative Serge Ibaka trade). They are overflowing with the exact kind of talent that Oklahoma City is going to be begging to build their future around if they do, in fact, believe that Westbrook will not be a member of the team for long. Boston is in a position where they could afford to make several tempting offers to the Thunder because the one thing they really need is a superstar like Westbrook to pull together whatever they may have left and make a real impact this season. If Oklahoma is indeed listening to trade offers, there is no team that can speak louder than the Celtics.
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