The Houston Rockets are on the verge of losing another star.
With the news that Russell Westbrook reportedly “wants out of Houston,” the Rockets’ rocky offseason continued down its treacherous path Wednesday.
The franchise has already lost coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey and if things continue to nosedive, they could lose James Harden, too.
Houston might have a lot of problems, but they can potentially salvage their roster by giving into Westbrook’s demands and trading him.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, there might not be a huge market for a 32-year-old point guard with a lengthy injury history who still has nearly $100 million left on his contract (if he picks up his $47 million player option in 2022, which he will).
But that doesn’t mean a Westbrook trade is impossible. Here are five trades that could work.
This might represent the best trade package for the aging point guard. The Rockets would acquire a starting point guard in Terry Rozier who averaged 18 points and more than four assists per game in his first year with the Hornets. Houston would also add Biyombo’s expiring contract and a reclamation project in Malik Monk. Monk is the perfect player for the Rockets to take a chance on because, at worst, he can be a reliable knockdown shooter as a complementary piece to Harden.
The Hornets and Westbrook do have a deep connection, though. Westbrook is a Jordan Brand athlete, and who just so happens to own the Hornets? Well, none other than the GOAT himself, Michael Jordan. Westbrook would team up with rookie sensation Devonte’ Graham and whoever the Hornets select with the No. 3 pick.
While Westbrook would probably prefer to go to a contender, the Hornets might be his most realistic landing spot.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers, who were at one point the favorites to win the 2020 NBA title, had a disappointing finish to their season after being upset by the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs. Following their failure to win a championship, the Clippers reportedly had chemistry issues in their locker room. That led to the departure of coach Doc Rivers.
And with Kawhi Leonard and George entering the final year of their deals in Los Angeles, the Clippers might want to get what they can for George while still trying to remain a championship contender, especially if it could mean that Leonard decides to stay in Los Angeles for the long haul.
For the Rockets, they’d dump Westbrook’s massive contract on the Clippers and add a young forward in Kabengele, an expiring contract with Noah while upgrading from Westbrook to George, who is also on an expiring deal.
If the Clippers don’t want to end the Paul George experiment after only one season, then they can cobble together a bunch of smaller deals and expiring contracts to take on Westbrook’s big deal.
Los Angeles would have to part ways with a lot of their depth, which was a strength of their team a year ago. But they’d create their own Big 3 which could take on the Lakers and other emerging superpowers in the NBA.
Westbrook could initiate the offense while Leonard and George play off the ball, and Westbrook would be perfect as the primary scorer on the second unit when their All-Star wings are resting on the bench.
In this scenario, the Clippers would also be able to retain shooter Landry Shamet, but they’d have to fill out the rest of their roster with minimum-level players.
This would also be another salary dump for the Rockets, but they’d add some nice pieces in Beverley, Zubac and Williams, who could all be traded if the Rockets go into full rebuild mode or potentially work alongside Harden if he remains in Houston.
New York Knicks
The Knicks have salary cap space and are desperate for a superstar — even one who might be long in the tooth. Westbrook would give the Knicks an electrifying scoring guard who can put up triple-doubles, while the team continues to rebuild. It would be somewhat of a progress stopper for RJ Barrett as he’d have to take a backseat to Westbrook’s incredibly high usage rate, but Westbrook would be a fun fit for Madison Square Garden… whenever fans will be allowed back at games.
The Knicks wouldn’t have to give up much, either. This trade would constitute a salary dump for the Rockets as they’d acquire four players who might not be long-term assets while getting off Westbrook’s hefty contract.
Trading for an older, injured player doesn’t seem like something the Knicks would do, though. Oh wait…
the Knicks would never take on 100 million dollars of uninsured salary for a former MVP-level player 97 knee surgeries deep. there is no history of that whatsoever. https://t.co/puP0a3p3mU— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) November 12, 2020
The Bucks should be on high alert that Giannis Antetokounmpo could leave via free agency next year, or heck, even ask for a trade after the Bucks failed to win a championship. When that happens, teams get desperate.
Milwaukee could acquire Westbrook without having to give up Khris Middleton or Brook Lopez, but it would cost them nearly everything else on their roster, including their one young prospect in DiVincenzo. But that would be a small price to pay if it means keeping the Greek Freak in Milwaukee for the foreseeable future.
In this swap, the Rockets would acquire multiple depth pieces that can help the Rockets win now and they’d add a dynamic piece to the backcourt in DiVincenzo.
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