Knicks Emerge As Destination For Russell Westbrook

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  • The New York Knicks could be a trade destination for Russell Westbrook.
  • Westbrook has reportedly asked the Houston Rockets to trade him.
  • The former MVP averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game last season.

Russell Westbrook could be headed to the Big Apple.

According to a report from the New York Times’ Marc Stein, the Knicks are on the shortlist of potential trade destinations for the mercurial Houston Rockets guard. Per Sten the Knicks have already weighed a trade for Westbrook and if they are willing to absorb his $132M contract, Russ could become the “centerpiece” of the Knicks.

The Knicks are one of the few NBA teams who have enough salary cap space to absorb a big contract like Westbrook’s. They also have the needed trade assets to swing deal with the Rockets. However, the report also says that the Knicks are still considering numerous possibilities with their two first round picks and projected cap space.

Expressed Concern

Last week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim McMahon reported that sources close to the Rockets organization revealed that Westbrook and James Harden have both expressed their concern about the Rockets’ direction heading to the upcoming 2020-21 NBA season.

The worries come after the Rockets’ made several key moves outside the basketball court. Head coach Mike D’Antoni stepped down after the team was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs and then longtime GM Daryl Morey followed. The Rockets went on to hire Stephen Silas as head coach and later it was learned that Harden was pushing for Tyronn Lue or John Lucas.

Rockets team owner Tillman Fertitta said that he has no plans of breaking up the team and wants to contend for the title next season. But after new GM Rafael Stone said that he doesn’t plan on continuing with D’Antoni’s small ball experiment, there seems to be some gaps as the Rockets are heavily invested in their small ball basketball with limited to no flexibility.

Russ Wants Out

In the wake of that development, Westbrook is said to be asking for directions to the exit door with Harden opting to stay put. The Athletic reported that Westbrook cited the Rockets’ culture and accountability as his main reasons for asking to be traded. Both sides have yet to issue an official statement on the matter.

When news of Westbrook’s possible availability emerged, contenders like the L.A. Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks quickly surfaced as potential suitors. The Clippers are looking to redeem themselves after a disappointing finish that saw them blow a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets during the second round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Bucks are looking to add pieces that would help Giannis Antetokounmpo stay in Milwaukee.

Then teams with cap space like the Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, and Charlotte Hornets also entered the picture as possible Westbrook destinations. The Knicks are on top of that list as they have been trying to lure a big-name superstar to their fold for years now. The Knicks haven’t had a marquee player since Carmelo Anthony left many years back.

Trading For Westbrook

It was only last offseason when the Rockets traded Chris Paul in order to land Westbrook. Houston gave up a fortune to acquire Westbrook. Not only did they send Paul to Oklahoma City but they also added first round picks in 2024 and 2026 plus pick swaps in 2021 and 2025.

The two-time NBA scoring champion and former MVP aeragd 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game during the 2019-20 season. Westbrook was hounded by a quad injury and the COVID-19 virus during the 2020 playoffs. The Rockets beat the Thunder in round one before falling to the eventual champions Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals.

Houston has the 6th best odds to win the Western Conference next season at +1600 in the latest odds board from BetOnline.ag. Meanwhile, Westbrook is among the longshot favorites to win the 2021 NBA MVP award at +3300. This offseason is the shortest in the history of the NBA and the Rockets need to fix things in a hurry if they want to live up to Tillman Fertitta’s 2021 plan.

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