The biggest story around the Los Angeles Lakers all summer was a potential Russell Westbrook trade. While rumors swirled all summer, the Lakers ultimately did not move Westbrook and he entered the season — controversially — in the purple and gold.
To be fair, the Westbrook experience has gone better than expected this season. While he has been far from perfect, it appears that Darvin Ham may actually have something in “bench Westbrook”. Of course, Ham has to stick to his guns and keep him in this lesser role, as it is the best way to make him valuable to this team.
Now, a Westbrook trade does not seem likely. He is not that big of a problem and the Lakers might not be good enough to trade two future first-round picks to move him. As we all know with the NBA, though, anything can happen.
If Westbrook in indeed traded then the likely outcome would be that his new team buys him out of his $47.1 million salary. Now, it appears as if we know exactly which team Westbrook might call home if that happens.
Russell Westbrook might join the Miami Heat after his Lakers stint.
Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report wrote that the buzz around league sources is that Westbrook will sign with the Heat if he is bought out this season. While Miami might be interested in a potential Westbrook for Kyle Lowry swap, that will ultimately never happen.
If there is any team in the league that would take a chance on Westbrook and actually believes that it could turn him around it would be the Miami Heat. Heat culture, as they like to call it, is a very real thing that has gotten the most out of every player that has stepped through those doors.
So if a Westbrook trade does indeed happen this season he could wind up finishing the year in Miami. Even if a Westbrook trade does not happen, the Heat very well could end up being the next team that he plays for.
If the Heat are interested in signing Westbrook as a buyout target then they would be in the Westbrook market in free agency next summer. Westbrook isn’t going to command more than a Mid-Level Exception, so Miami has the means to bring him in as a free agent.
Regardless of the path he takes, it now seems likely that Westbrook will go from playing in Sunny Los Angeles to playing near beautiful Miami Beach.