Both the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder suffered shocking losses of their franchise superstars this NBA offseason. With Dwyane Wade signing with the Chicago Bulls to join Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic, the Hassan Whiteside team is left with no franchise face - a situation they possibly did not expect to happen again since the exit of LeBron James in 2014. Meanwhile, the Kevin Durant free agency campaign ended in a controversial decision which now has the former NBA MVP ditching Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams to play alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
With this is in mind, it becomes obvious that both NBA teams are in dire need of a rebuild. Hence, sources claim that another superstar might soon exit the Oklahoma City Thunder in an effort to avoid losing an All-Star for nothing. Rumors are rife that Russell Westbrook, who only has a year left in his contract with the NBA team, will be sent to the Miami Heat with a blockbuster package that could even include a draft pick in 2017.
Rumors are pointing at the possibility of Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow and a draft pick from the Miami Heat in exchange for Russell Westbrook. Without Kevin Durant in the Oklahoma City Thunder, it would be very challenging and nearly impossibly for the Steven Adams team to keep Westbrook. Hence, the team is said to be eyeing ways to milk his contract before it expires.
"I talked to [Russell]," shared Kevin Durant following his announcement of his decision to move to the Golden State Warriors in free agency. He added, "Obviously it was tough. We were teammates for so long. Had a lot of great memories. I'm sure he wasn't happy about the decision, but he respected it as my friend. The relationship was great. We had great years, man. That's something that you'll never take away from us."
These comments led some fans to speculate, citing that the reaction of Westbrook is a tad unusual for a guy who is almost as emotional as DeMarcus Cousins in the hardwood court. Some pointed out the difference of his response to the one from Damian Lillard when LaMarcus Aldridge opted to leave the Portland Trail Blazers to pursue his NBA championship dreams with the San Antonio Spurs. While Aldridge adjusted to playing with Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Danny Green, Lillard reportedly vowed to beat the San Antonio Spurs when they come face to face.
However, such is not the case for Westbrook and Durant. Is it only because they have a stronger friendship than LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard? Or is it because Westbrook also plans to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder come his free agency season in 2017?
As for a move to the Miami Heat, will the entry of Russell Westbrook push aside Hassan Whiteside as the face of the franchise? With Dwyane Wade gone and Chris Bosh still questionable, the young big man is expected to carry the team next season. However, it looks like acquiring Russell Westbrook might force Hassan Whiteside to either share or relinquish the spotlight.