news 6 days ago

Dave Hyde: Losing out on Russell Westbrook isn't a loss for Heat

Sun Sentinel — By Dave Hyde Sun Sentinel

July 11-- At the big moment, their national moment, did you see what the Houston Rockets did on their Twitter account?

While radio talk shows went crazy.

While ESPN cut in live.

While Heat fans flooded Twitter with tears in losing Russell Westbrook-even if losing Westbrook this way isn't losing at all.

Houston kept updating their summer league team's score. It was beating Utah in Las Vegas, their social media account kept updating.

The message: It's business as usual. Another Thursday night. Which it was in the NBA. This latest trade is just the next shocker in the rollicking fun of this summer.

Houston made a chess move in the West and, in so doing, got the player a lot of Heat fans wanted. Westbrook was wanted by the Heat front office on their certain terms, too.

It would have felt less like a loss, and more like hardline strategy if the Heat simply lost Westbrook by announcing they were holding firm to their trade demands and walked away. Which, of course, is what happened without any announcement.

The Heat didn't want to put their young players like Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro into the deal. As they shouldn't have. As it wouldn't have helped their end goal.

Westbrook, at 30, is more of a marketing idea than a majestic player. He's electric. But he's never won. He's a highlight reel. Except the highlight is of him losing in the first round of the playoffs to the likes of Portland, Utah and Houston the past three seasons.

Could the Heat use him? Absolutely.

Would he bring a contending team by walking in the door? Absolutely not.

He would have sold tickets. He would have made the Heat a national fascination again. That's worth something in the business of basketball. But, at 31, he'd handcuff the Heat for four years with four years and $171 million on his contract by normal thinking.

Of course, nothing is normal anymore. Everything we've come to believe about big money and untradeable names has to be re-examined after the NBA stacks shock upon shock this summer.

Age doesn't matter.

Money doesn't matter.

Loyalty still doesn't matter.

Winning doesn't always matter.

Nothing that we typically stake our ideas and foundational concepts to in sports matters anymore at all. No? The prevailing idea is Oklahoma City wanted to dump an aging Westbrook's contract while it can and rebuild.

Except it took an older, expensive Chris Paul in return. Paul is 35. He is owed three years and $123 million. Surely the Thunder plan to move Paul somewhere else. But where?

Oklahoma, meanwhile, got two more first-round draft picks and swapped a couple others with Houston. It now has a bushel full of draft picks. It's either the greatest idea to rebuild (its idea) or an overvalued idea considering most are non-lottery picks (my idea).

Either way, Houston made a move to bring Westbrook together with his former Oklahoma City running mate, James Harden. Can they trade for another basketball, too?

And the Heat? They should be glad they didn't fall for Westbrook. He wouldn't get them closer to winning than fourth in the East. Is that worth a dwindling game, huge expense and marketing idea?

Maybe now they move to Washington and re-examine the Bradley Beal deal even if it means taking on an expensive and injured John Wall. We'll see. If Oklahoma City can dump Paul's contract, could the Heat dump Wall's four years and $171 million?

So the Heat are back to getting just Jimmy Butler this summer-for now. And Houston is celebrated for getting Westbrook-for now. And, well, the Rockets' social-media account showed it was business as usual as it posted the halftime score of its summer game in all this.

It's something more than business as usual for the NBA, though.

This is great for business.

How great? The NBA swamped the baseball All-Star Game. The NFL had Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon threatening a holdout unless he's paid.

No one holds out in the NBA. The players don't just get paid. They get moved in crazy ways. Houston got the player the Heat fans wanted. The Heat, you can be sure, should be fine with that, too.

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