According to the NBA Rumor Mill™, the New York Knicks might be suitors for Russell Westbrook’s massive contract.
On Wednesday, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders threw out the possibility of the Knicks taking on some pretty sizeable contracts to bring in a star.
I continue to hear the Knicks are open to taking on a big contract like a Westbrook or a Chris Paul... so we'll see. They have ending deals and some attractive pieces (Randle and DSJ) plus their first round pick has value. https://t.co/sz34AVsqdX— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) October 14, 2020
Among the names mentioned was former Rockets point guard Chris Paul and the current Rockets point guard.
The rumor of the Knicks being interested in obtaining Westbrook picked up some steam later on Thursday. According to Ian Begley of SNYtv, the Knicks will consider trading for the former MVP if the Rockets are ready to pull the trigger:
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.
Despite what Kyler insinuated by naming Knicks trade assets, that’s typically not how these deals go. No team is going to take on CP3’s old age and giant contract and willingly give you good, young players and draft picks. Instead, they will typically take your big contract and ask for compensation for getting them out of your hair: ie. draft picks. And, according to Begley, that’s what the Knicks would want.
Westbrook’s work ethic and drive would have an impact on New York’s young players. But the deal — just like a potential Paul trade — would obviously have to make sense for New York. If they are going to take on Westbrook’s contract (three years remaining, third year is a player option, $132 million in total), you’d think that the Knicks would look for an additional asset from Houston.
While it’s nice to think of unloading Westbrooks contract and finally making peace to some rather unsavory contracts and trades in the past two seasons, it’s best that Rockets fans be wary of cleaning house to this extent.
Now that Mike D’Antoni has moved on and long-time general manager Daryl Morey is gone, the Rockets are either blowing it up or one more move away from officially blowing it up. Westbrook is James Harden’s best friend and Harden had a lot of say in getting him to Houston. Moving him could be the last straw for Harden. There’s also the fact that many, Harden included, would say that the Rockets are more of a contender with Westbrook than without — how true that is is unclear, but it’s not worth finding out.
After a first-round exit and sending Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers in the offseason of 2019, the writing was on the wall for Westbrook to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder next. If Houston sends off Westbrook, it’s hard to imagine they’ll keep their franchise player also.