This past week, it was widely reported by the likes of Shams Charania of The Athletic that Russell Westbrook wants out of Houston and is looking to be traded. Westbrook was traded to the Houston Rockets last summer in a deal that sent Chris Paul and a plethora of draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder. For the most part, Westbrook’s tenure in Houston was successful as he found chemistry with James Harden, all while helping them progress to the second round of the playoffs. Despite this, it has become clear that Houston is no longer the place for Westbrook, and rumors are circulating as to where he could end up.
With three years and $132.6 million left on his contract, getting a solid trade package for Westbrook will prove to be difficult, as many teams won’t want to take on the contract. Regardless, there are plenty of teams who could use a point guard like Westbrook, and it would certainly behoove them to try making a worthwhile deal. While his contract might pose a huge risk moving forward, here are some of the teams that could stand to benefit by bringing him onto their rosters.
A week ago, the idea of Russell Westbrook going to the Charlotte Hornets would have been ludicrous. For years, the Hornets have been a team that struggles to make the playoffs in any given year, all while Michael Jordan refuses to pay top dollar for premium talent. With Westbrook, however, this could very well change. After all, Westbrook is currently signed to a massive deal with Jordan Brand, and his relationship with MJ seems to be quite fruitful. With this little tidbit in mind, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume these two could be a match made in heaven.
Throughout the week, the Hornets have even been rumored to be the frontrunners for Russ, which goes to show the validity behind this franchise as a potential suitor. For the most part, the Hornets struggled to score this past season with Terry Rozier as their starting point guard, and bringing in a superstar like Westbrook would immediately make this a team that could compete for a playoff spot year in and year out. The Hornets also have players like Nic Batum and Cody Zeller who could be used as trade bait. Not to mention the number three pick in the draft, though it remains to be seen if Jordan would be willing to give up a future asset for the 32-year-old Westbrook.
Los Angeles Clippers
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After the year the Clippers just had, they could probably use some more help on the floor. While they were favorites to go out and win the NBA title this year, the Clippers fell short when it mattered most as they blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the playoffs. Superstars like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were roasted by the media for their efforts all while role players such as Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell were forced to shoulder much of the blame.
It became quite obvious to fans and pundits that the key missing piece was a bonafide point guard. If anyone fits that description, it’s Westbrook. After finishing the season ranked 28th in total passes, the Clippers are yearning for a player who can get 10 assists per night with their eyes closed. If the Clippers could somehow drum up a deal including players like Patrick Beverley, Williams, and maybe even Harrell through a sign-and-trade, then it’s quite possible we see Westbrook, Leonard, and George on the court together next season.
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When Jimmy Butler was signed by the Miami Heat last summer, it became obvious that the team was going in a flashier direction. Butler is a player with a vibrant personality who matches the city’s energy perfectly. At the time of his signing, there were reports that Westbrook wanted out of Oklahoma City. Naturally, the conventional wisdom at the time was that Westbrook would be headed to Miami and would form a dynamic duo alongside Butler. Many saw this as a great fit since Westbrook, like Butler, is a strong personality who embraces what “Heat Culture” is all about.
In the end, Westbrook went to the Rockets and the Heat ended up going all the way to the NBA Finals thanks to efforts from both Butler and their talented crop of young guns. Now, the Heat are at risk of losing Goran Dragic to free agency, leaving a giant hole to fill at the point guard position. Should the Heat decide to get bold, they could look to package some of their role players, as well as some young talent, in order to secure Westbrook. Ultimately, this trade would prove to be a huge risk as the Heat already have a solid young core that could be deadly for years to come. If the price is right, however, then the Heat might find themselves in a position to make that move.
New York Knicks
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Throughout the last few years, the Knicks have been at the center of every single rumor involving a star player. Who can forget 2019 when everyone thought they were going to land Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the same free agency cycle, only to get burned by the Brooklyn Nets? At this point, Knicks fans have been put through the wringer and the future doesn’t look all that bright. With that being said, the Knicks are still a bold franchise and as it stands, they are rumored to be going after the likes of Chris Paul.
There is a solid chance the Knicks are unable to acquire Paul, which means they will still be in need of a superstar point guard who can lead the team to more than fifteen wins per season. There aren’t very many available right now, and Westbrook would be a great second choice. Not to mention, the Knicks have an abundance of young talent that would be attractive to a team like the Rockets who are clearly about to embark on a whole new direction.
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Blake Griffin for Russell Westbrook. Yes, it’s a simple trade, but it’s definitely one that could be beneficial to both sides. The Rockets were forced to play small ball this past season as they didn’t have a viable big man who could dominate in the paint. Westbrook ultimately made the Rockets smaller and replacing him with someone like Griffin would immediately give the Rockets some of that size they desperately need.
Meanwhile, it’s been rumored that the Pistons could be looking to deal Derrick Rose, who has one year left on his contract. If the Pistons were to pull that off, they would be in need of a point guard — which makes Westbrook the perfect trade target. The Pistons also have the seventh overall pick in the draft, which means they will have some solid young talent coming into the franchise, creating a nice foundation for Westbrook to come into.
Considering both Griffin and Westbrook have massive contracts, this deal wouldn’t be much of a risk for either side. In fact, the Pistons could very well be the most viable landing spot for Westbrook on this list.
Which team do you think is the best fit for Russell Westbrook? Let us know, in the comments below.