The Milwaukee Bucks were reportedly among the teams to recently discuss a trade for Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook, according to Adam Joseph yesterday on Twitter:
per sources, Presti discussed Westbrook deals with several different teams (inc. SAS, MIL, LAL, BOS), but no middle ground was found.— Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport) July 21, 2016
Milwaukee offered significant assets (clarifying), but backed away when Westbrook said no to an extension. https://t.co/PqQKw3CSiB— Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport) July 21, 2016
The Thunder's asking price remains very high, as expected. Although the Bucks have a few highly valuable assets such as might enable them to land a true superstar, it would seem they've wisely acknowledged that doing so would only be worth entertaining with some long-term assurances in place.
Exactly what "significant assets" might be is mostly speculation, but one would certainly assume any trade package OKC might pursue would include Jabari Parker and/or Khris Middleton (Giannis ain't going anywhere). Westbrook is among the few players in the league today that may truly be worth a swap along those lines, but doing so without a certainty of retaining him would be a huge and potentially calamitous gamble. If the Bucks are truly in pursuit of the Thunder's sole remaining superstar, it makes perfect sense that the conversation would have to begin with a promise that Westbrook would be in Milwaukee more than one season. It simply can't be overstated how devastating to the franchise it would be to give up a good chunk of the team's young core for a one-year rental.
Oklahoma City is sure to have a long line of suitors if/when Westbrook goes "officially" on the block, and there are a lot of roadblocks on his path to Milwaukee. So how much of the rumor mill is just noise, deriving most of its value from a tweet that puts the Bucks alongside the Spurs, Lakers, and Celtics? There's a certain panache that comes with getting mentioned in trade talks for big names, and the Bucks certainly don't mind getting a little extra press. But there's an obvious drawback when it means dropping names on your own team (and thus suggesting they're not a definite part of your future). This particular rumor didn't quiet get that far, and overall it's probably for the best if the Bucks limit their Westbrook interest to window-shopping.