Miami Heat linked to former MVP prior to free agency

The Miami Heat are the betting favorite to land Russell Westbrook this offseason, if he decides to depart from the LA Clippers.
Los Angeles Clippers v Detroit Pistons
Los Angeles Clippers v Detroit Pistons / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

Following this year’s NBA Draft on June 26-27, free agency begins on June 30. The Miami Heat will have some big decisions to make during this time, as will former MVP Russell Westbrook. The former All-NBA talent will hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent after a full season with the LA Clippers.

According to Bovada, the Heat are the betting favorites to land Westbrook if he leaves the Clippers.

This is not the first time that Miami has been linked to the former fourth overall 2008 draft pick. Rumors and reports paired the two together several times over the years.

Westbrook joined the Clippers after the trade deadline back in 2023, and even at an older age of 35, he has still been impactful. During the 2023-2024 season, he saw himself humbly accepting a bench role after LA traded for star guard James Harden. Doing so allowed for more cohesion across the team’s rotation, and played well in that role.

Westbrook averaged 11.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists on 45.4% shooting last season.

He is approaching the ending years of his career, but a name of his caliber on a veteran-minimum contract can still help this Heat core (which is what he signed for this past season). Miami has Terry Rozier and Tyler Herro in the backcourt, but the team lacked a true backup point guard even at full strength. 

That’s a role that Westbrook can instantly fill. He is capable of elite playmaking for himself and others. His ability to run a team’s offense for a second unit is intriguing to envision in Miami. There is also that athleticism and burst that he can bring to the table.

A big problem with the Heat this season was player availability, and regardless of having a lot of mileage under his belt, Westbrook has been a reliable player in that department in recent years. He appeared in 68 games this past season and 73 the year prior. In limited minutes, he can be depended on to play at a consistent basis.

Similar to Victor Oladipo’s Heat tenure where he played off the bench, Westbrook is another marquee name that can be productive in that kind of opportunity. He is still effective on both ends of the floor in spurts. The hardest part of a potential Westbrook-Miami fit is his lack of outside shooting.

However, this is a top-75 talent in NBA history, the league’s all-time triple-double leader, former 2017 league MVP and nine-time NBA All-Star.

With all this being said, it’s unknown if Westbrook will decide to return to the Clippers. But if not, this could be a low-risk, high-reward acquisition for a Heat team with limited options this summer.