NBA trade rumors: Knicks pursuit of Russell Westbrook must hinge solely on low return for Rockets

Russell Westbrook Knicks
Russell Westbrook has been linked with the Knicks after asking for a trade out of Houston.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Another big NBA name available, another round of rumors tying him to the New York Knicks. 

Superstar point guard Russell Westbrook wants to be traded away from the Houston Rockets, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, citing concerns about the future and potential rebuild of the franchise. 

Dealing the 32-year-old would certainly create the space necessary to spark an organizational revamp, which already featured the dismissal of head coach Mike D’Antoni and the departure of general manager, Daryl Morey. 

Westbrook has three years remaining on his five-year, $206 million deal where he is making at least $40 million in each of them. 

With his perceived availability comes a link to the Knicks, which was first reported by Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer on Tuesday. 

“I’ve heard the Knicks have interest in Westbrook,” O’Connor said after mentioning the Los Angeles Clippers as well. “And whether anything materializes there, who knows? Who knows?”

The Knicks have long been linked to the man the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Westbrook for in veteran point guard Chris Paul. But Westbrook is younger and a far more dynamic player for around the same price. 

He averaged 27.2 points and seven assists per game last season in Houston following three-straight years in Oklahoma City in which he averaged a triple-double every night.

Normally, a player of that caliber would prompt an enormous haul from a potentially-interested party, but Westbrook’s pricetag and the Rockets’ desire to shed salary for a rebuild should limit their return. 

From a Knicks standpoint, that means not giving up promising talents like Mitchell Robinson or RJ Barrett. That also means not giving up the No. 8 pick of the 2020 NBA Draft for a nightmarish contract. 

Including one of their other first-round picks, like the one they hold at No. 27 is a much more reasonable conversation starter considering it would be the Knicks doing the Rockets the favor of getting Westbrook’s money off the books. 

That would allow the Knicks’ rebuild to actually gain legs by acquiring an All-Star talent who is one of the best point guards in the league and get the franchise closer to the postseason conversation much sooner rather than later. 

But if the Rockets start asking for one of their top-tier youngsters or their earliest draft pick, any hypothetical trade conversations should end rather quickly.