This isn’t the news any of us wanted to hear, but stick with me for a second. First, the news, and that is according to Marc Stein, the Los Angeles Lakers are working to find a potential trade partner for Russell Westbrook as that relationship devolves.
Yeah, like no one saw that coming. Like one over the hill alpha, one over the hill never-was who thinks he’s an alpha, and the league’s pre-eminent beta sidekick were ever going to work together, but I digress...
According to Stein, the Houston Rockets haven’t ruled out the possibility of taking Russ back if the price is right.
There is at least one team out there that would take Russell Westbrook if the conditions are right, per @TheSteinLine— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) January 21, 2022
“That team, surprisingly, is the Houston Rockets.”
(Via https://t.co/CwpW1nO5P8) pic.twitter.com/yh8ux1sbRO
Hear this now entitled Lakers fans before you even hit send on the Tweet with any ridiculous trade proposals that include Christian Wood, Eric Gordon, or JaeSean Tate in any capacity: “If the conditions are right” means one thing and one thing only. That’s Russ plus a first round pick for John Wall, nothing more, nothing less. That’s it.
The Rockets would then — I hope — work on a buyout scenario for Russ, and he would go wherever he sees fit. Houston can’t afford to hand the ball over to Russ when they’re trying to develop their young talent. That’s the antithesis to rebuilding. And there’s no one I’d rather see re-don a Rockets uniform less (other than Scottie Pippen, maybe. MAYBE) than Russell Westbrook, whose arrival to the franchise almost single-handedly spelled the end of Houston’s championship aspirations in the James Harden era.
The Rockets, meanwhile, would gain a first-rounder and free up some cash following the buyout. The Lakers get Wall, who would likely be overjoyed to be playing in L.A. and brings some of the things Russ does not, like defense and an ability to shoot the ball, or at the very least, have other teams even remotely respect his shooting.
But that scenario is a win for both teams, and it’s the only way the Rockets make this deal. Anything else and my impeccable opinion of Rafael Stone and the rebuild job he’s been doing takes one serious hit.