NBA Rumors: Heat May Consider Trading Jimmy Butler For Russell Westbrook If They Suffer Early Playoff Exit

Jimmy Butler trash talking an opponent
Shutterstock | 1024723

JB Baruelo

Miami Heat small forward Jimmy Butler is expected to be one of the most intriguing names on the trade market in the 2022 NBA offseason. Butler may be currently focused on helping the Heat dominate the Eastern Conference and win the NBA championship title in the 2022-23 NBA season. Still, rumors have already started to swirl around his future in Miami.

According to some rival players who recently spoke to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, the six-time NBA All-Star may consider demanding a trade from the Heat if they fail to achieve their main goal this season.

Jimmy Butler To LA Lakers

Jimmy Butler smiling at his teammates
Wikimedia | Bagumba

Finding a trade partner for an aging superstar who's owed $184 million over the next four seasons would be tough for the Heat, but it's not entirely impossible. If their primary goal is to get his massive salary off their books, Sam Quinn of CBS Sports suggests that the Heat could engage in a blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Lakers involving Russell Westbrook.

"If the Heat sense that their championship window is closed, a Westbrook-for-Butler-and-picks swap could serve as a get-out-of-jail-free card on that lofty extension. The Heat could then reload quickly when Westbrook's contract comes off the books in a year. This isn't how Miami typically operates, but there's valid logic to it if this postseason goes badly enough."

Heat Clear Salary Cap Space For Summer of 2023

Jimmy Butler taunting opponents
Giphy | ESPN

Financial-wise, swapping Butler for Westbrook would be a no-brainer for the Heat. While Butler is set to be on the team's payroll until the 2025-26 NBA season, Westbrook's contract will be expiring after the 2022-23 NBA season.

This will give the Heat enough salary cap flexibility to chase another superstar in the summer of 2023 when the likes of James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal, Khris Middleton, and Nikola Jokic could become unrestricted free agents.

Lakers Take A Huge Gamble On Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler taking a free throw
Wikimedia | Gogus

Trading for Butler would be a massive gamble for the Lakers. If it ends up being another failed experiment, the Lakers would be carrying a big financial burden in the next four years.

However, if Butler manages to build good chemistry with LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the trio stays away from any major injury, it would undoubtedly strengthen the Lakers' chances of returning to the NBA Finals and capturing the Larry O'Brien Trophy next year.

Trade To Lakers Makes Sense For Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler practicing his shooting
Wikimedia | Tm

Being traded to the Lakers would make much sense for Butler, especially if they suffer an early playoff exit and his relationship with the Heat worsens this summer.

Joining forces with James and Davis in Los Angeles would give Butler a realistic chance of competing for the NBA championship title in the 2022-23 NBA season. Adding at least one championship ring to his collection would cement Butler's status as one of the best NBA players in the 21st century.