If the Oklahoma City Thunder trade Russell Westbrook, the Miami Heat would be a "good destination" for the former league MVP, says NBA analyst Tony Delk.
The Thunder are facing a period of rebuilding after trading All-Star forward Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for an unprecedented haul comprising a young star (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander), a veteran on an expiring contract (Danilo Gallinari) and a swathe of future draft picks.
In the George transaction, the Thunder received three unprotected first-round picks from the Clippers - 2022, 2024 and 2026 - and two future Miami Heat first-round picks that Los Angeles had acquired, a 2021 unprotected selection and a 2023 lottery-protected pick.
With that trade bounty, Thunder GM Sam Presti has no choice but to begin building for the future. Eight-time All-Star Westbrook, who will be 31 in November and has four years and $170m left on his contract, does not fit with the team's new timeline.
According to multiple media reports on Tuesday, Westbrook signed off on general manager Sam Presti taking trade offers and is "warming to the idea" of a switch to Miami.
Delk, who played for eight teams over the course of his 10-year NBA career, believes the time is right for the Thunder and Westbrook to part ways. "It is time to move on. The window has closed for Oklahoma City," Delk said. "Right now, they do not have the pieces to win a championship but they do have an asset [in Westbrook] to trade and get back draft picks or a collection of second and third-tier players.
"The Thunder do have players who can be replacements for Westbrook, albeit not of the same calibre. Young players [like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander] who are going to play the right way and get their team-mates involved.
"I've always liked what Russell has brought to the table, he is always going to give you 100 per cent. He has done so much for the Oklahoma City Thunder, he has been a first-class citizen and he has done everything they wanted him to do on and off the court. But, as an organisation, you have to be prepared to move on."
Asked for his thoughts on potential suitors for Westbrook, Delk said: "For Westbrook, I like the potential trade to Miami and him connecting him Jimmy [Butler]. That would be a good destination for him. At [an average of] $42m a season, with no state tax, who wouldn't want to make that move there!
"The way Westbrook plays, I think it will be a benefit to Jimmy Butler because it's someone else he can count on. Miami will build their team around those two guys if the trade takes place. Butler needs another guy with him because trying to carry a team by yourself is a lot of work."
The Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves are also expected to have interest in acquiring Westbrook, according to reports.
A potential reunion with former Thunder team-mate James Harden would be poor fit, according to Delk.
"I think it is a bad match because both players need the ball in their hands," he said. "In Westbrook, you have a guy who is ball-dominant, just like Harden. He rebounds the ball, pushes the ball down the court in transition and he takes some [questionable] shots.
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"Shot selection is important, especially in the playoffs, where the game is about halfcourt execution and making the right plays. I don't think Harden and Westbrook is a great mix."