The Lakers have been faring better as of late, however, and guard Russell Westbrook has become a valuable member of the team’s second unit.
Despite Westbrook’s contributions, especially during the team’s recent winning streak, there are still countless rumors circling the league that indicate the Lakers might move on from him sometime soon.
According to one of those recent reports, the Heat have been pegged as a possible landing spot in the event that Westbrook is bought out later this season.
The nugget came while Pincus was discussing a potential three-way deal between the Lakers, Brooklyn Nets and Detroit Pistons. Pincus believes that if such a trade took place, Westbrook would end up getting bought out by the Pistons.
If Westbrook were sent to a rebuilding team like the Pistons, a contract buyout wouldn’t be much of a surprise. Earlier this season, NBA insider Chris Mannix expressed his belief that Westbrook will eventually be traded. He added that the team he is ultimately traded to will likely buy him out.
His next prediction was much more surprising. Mannix stated that after a contract buyout, Westbrook may have trouble finding a new home in the NBA.
“Whoever acquires Westbrook in a trade, whether it’s Utah or Indiana, Charlotte has been mentioned as a possibility because of Gordon Hayward and his contract, they’re not keeping him,” Mannix said. “If Utah acquired Russell Westbrook tomorrow, they would waive him or send him home. He would never play a game for the Utah Jazz. He would never play a game for the Indiana Pacers. They’re not acquiring Russell Westbrook the player. They’re acquiring the multiple draft picks that will come with him and the contract that will come off the books next season. If Russell Westbrook doesn’t play for the Lakers this season, he’s not going to play anywhere.”
That was earlier in the season when Westbrook was struggling mightily. The good news for Westbrook is that he has now proven that he can be a fantastic addition to a team’s second unit.
He has come off the bench in all but three games this season. In the 11 games he’s played as a backup, he’s averaged 16.8 points, 8.6 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game. He’s shot 43.6 percent from the field and a respectable 39.6 percent from deep.
Clearly, he has proven that he still belongs in the NBA even if he is no longer the All-Star talent that he once was. Perhaps even most importantly, he has received rave reviews from teammates for his leadership and support.
Would Westbrook be a good fit for the Heat? At the moment, the Heat’s primary concerns appear to be production from their frontcourt and depth. However, at 7-11 on the season, Miami would likely take all the help that it can get.
Moreover, Westbrook could feasibly compete for a spot in the starting lineup if he were added to the Heat. That would likely be an attractive possibility for the former MVP.