Sports

Russell Westbrook trade rumors: Why would Knicks, Rockets want any part of a deal?

The NBA offseason has not officially begun until rumors start flying about the Knicks bringing a star to Madison Square Garden. Well, here we go!

New York could be interested in a deal for Rockets guard Russell Westbrook if Houston decides to put him on the trade block.

From SNY’s Ian Begley:

Something else to keep an eye on: some agents who represent top point guard free agents believe the Knicks would poke around on a potential Russell Westbrook trade if Houston makes him available. It’s worth noting that Westbrook, per sources, saw New York as a welcome landing spot last summer when Oklahoma City was talking to teams about potential trades.

MORE: Anthony Davis’ trade request gave him everything he wanted

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Rockets after they parted ways with coach Mike D’Antoni following a second-round flameout against the Lakers. Houston’s failure to reach the NBA Finals while in win-now mode and its current financial situation could force the front office to consider all of their options, including a Westbrook trade.

Just take a look at the contracts of Westbrook, James Harden and Eric Gordon. Yikes.

Season Harden Westbrook Gordon
2020-21 $41.3M $41.4M $16.9M
2021-22 $44.3M $44.2M $18.2M
2022-23 $47.4M* $47.1M* $19.6M

*Player option

The Knicks appear willing to take on a large contract, as they have also been linked to Thunder guard Chris Paul, who is set to make more than $80 million over the next two seasons. New York could entice Houston with draft picks because the Rockets don’t hold a slot in the 2020 NBA Draft, and they owe future first-round selections (2024 and 2026) to the Thunder as part of last year’s Westbrook trade in addition to future pick swaps (2021 and 2025).

Sure, both sides could figure out a deal, but here’s the thing: Why would the Knicks or Rockets want to do this?

Westbrook will turn 32 years old in November, so he doesn’t fit the timelines of RJ Barrett (20) and Mitchell Robinson (22). He can still be an impactful player, but Westbrook is a non-shooter and would eat up possessions that should go toward developing the Knicks’ youngsters. On top of that, New York shouldn’t be seeking out contracts that will serve as roadblocks in their rebuild.

As for the Rockets, unless they are simply desperate to get rid of Westbrook, it seems unlikely they would send him to NYC. Perhaps they could snag role players and/or draft picks, but if the Knicks are taking on Westbrook’s money, they may not be willing to offer many valuable assets — and they may want one attached to Westbrook coming their way. It’s hard to envision a scenario in which such a transaction significantly boosts Houston’s title chances. (Whether the Rockets are prepared to consider the possibility of rebuilding themselves is a different question.)

Anything involving the Knicks will attract attention because, well, they’re the Knicks, but this just sounds like another item on a long list of hypotheticals.

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