The Houston Rockets traded for Russell Westbrook last summer with the hope that he could help James Harden carry the team to the top of the league in the 2019-20 NBA season. Unfortunately, though they somewhat managed to show good chemistry in the regular season, the tandem of Westbrook and Harden still fell short of achieving their main goal in the 2020 Playoffs as they were easily eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals. With their inability to contend for the NBA championship title, it’s no longer surprising why rumors are currently swirling around Westbrook and his future with the Rockets.
As of now, the Rockets still have not shown any strong indication that they are planning to move Westbrook again this fall, but some people believe that they are better off breaking up their explosive backcourt duo. According to an anonymous Eastern Conference executive who spoke to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, Westbrook is clearly an odd fit alongside Harden, and it would be best for him to be traded a team where he could return from being the main man like the New York Knicks.
“I think we all realize that Harden and Westbrook aren’t the perfect fit for one another,” the Eastern Conference executive said. “But I think they might just have to move forward with those two and continue to try to build the roster around them. The [New York] Knicks might be one of the only teams that could be a fit for Westbrook. Not sure if there are any others.”
Despite failing to acquire their top targets on the trade and free agency market last summer, the Knicks still have not given up with their dream of adding a legitimate superstar to their roster. Aside from having enough salary cap space to chase big names in the 2020 free agency, the Knicks also have a plethora of trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal this fall. As Pincus noted, they could use veterans who are on expiring contracts for salary-matching purposes, and to sweeten the deal, they could add young prospects like Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, and Kevin Knox, together with multiple future first-round picks, the package.
While giving the Rockets the much-needed depth, the potential blockbuster trade would allow the Knicks to finally acquire a “headliner.” Westbrook would undeniably be the perfect fit for a big-market team like the Knicks. His arrival in New York may not be enough to make them an instant title contender in the Eastern Conference, but he could strengthen their chances of making a huge noise and ending their playoff drought next year.
If everything goes well in Westbrook’s first season in New York, the Knicks could become an attractive destination for superstar free agents in the summer of 2021.